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Knights NRLW squad building nicely for title defence

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The Newcastle Knights NRLW squad is building nicely in its quest to defend its Telstra Women’s Premiership in 2023.

Although the titleholders have lost a couple of stars, including Australian representative Millie Boyle, coach Ronald Griffiths has locked in some major signings of his own.

It started with gifted fullback Tamika Upton, followed by local products Hannah Southwell, Jesse Southwell, Yasmin Clydsdale and Caitlan Johnston.

Now, five more members of the successful outfit will lace up the boots again, with hooker Olivia Higgins, prop Tayla Predebon, lock Simone Karpani, front-rower Kayla Romanuik and second-rower Tiana Davison extending their stays with the Hunter-based club.

The retention of South Newcastle junior Higgins (one year), Gloucester’s Predebon (two years) and Kurri Kurri’s Romaniuk (two years) further underlines the strong thread of talent from the region that is woven through the squad.

Griffiths admitted he was pleased with the latest announcements.

“We are extremely honoured to have all five players recommit for the upcoming season,” he said.

“These signings underpin the connections we have built as a group over the past 12 months or so, through the NRLW title last year and into this year’s Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership campaign.

“Each player brings their own unique strengths and adds value in a myriad of ways.

“Tayla and Kayla are both blessed with natural leadership ability and have wonderful second phase options in their games, while Olivia provides excellent service and a strong defensive resolve.

“Their experience will be vital in building upon the foundations we have set.

“All three were this week rewarded with selection in the New South Wales Country team, which is a great honour for all male or female players who have represented Country from any era.

“Furthermore, Simone is extremely diligent in her preparation and is utterly committed to being her best self.

“She is a hugely valued team member who is selfless in delivering on those effort areas that all teams rely upon.

“And, Tiana’s commitment to her team-mates and our club, which includes a full time move away from her family in New Zealand, is unquestioned.

“She is the very embodiment of a great team member and her second NRLW contract is thoroughly deserved.”

It’s understood Muswellbrook’s Caitlin Moran, Singleton’s Jules Kirkpatrick and ex-Rooster Jasmin Strange have put pen to paper as well.

Players return to pre-season training on 29 May.

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