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Local flavour as Knights unveil NRLW squad

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The Newcastle Knights’ inaugural NRLW squad will boast a distinctly local feel, with seven Hunter-based players making the grade when the season kicks off in February.

In an historic announcement, representative players Bobbi Law, Caitlan Johnston, Jayme Fressard and Georgia Page will be joined by Chantelle Graham, Kyra Simon and Phoebe Desmond in the club’s first-ever team, to be led by newly-appointed head coach Casey Bromilow.

Newcastle Knights and Wests CEO Philip Gardner admitted it was a major milestone for the NRLW outfit, heading into its maiden competition.

“This is a landmark moment for the Knights,” he said.

“Our first-ever NRLW signings are a fantastic result for women around the region and showcase our pathway to the elite competition of women’s rugby league.

“It reminds me of when the original men’s team was assembled in 1988, full of local players drawn directly from our talent pool, brought together to form the Knights NRL foundation team.

“It will be a tremendous moment, especially when the side runs out for the first time at McDonald Jones Stadium.”

The 2021 season was originally scheduled for this year but was postponed to early 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Caitlan Johnston
Newcastle Knights’ NRLW inaugural signing Caitlan Johnston.

Indigenous All-Star Johnston was named as the inaugural signing, along with prodigious local talent, Simon.

The historic squad is starting to take shape with Law joining the team, having previously played for Sydney Roosters NRLW, along with Indigenous All Stars and Prime Ministers XIII.

Gun outside-back Fressard brings invaluable playing experiences from key roles in the title-winning Brisbane Broncos side in 2020 and Australian rugby sevens teams.

Former St George Illawarra Dragons forward Page comes on board, adding another element from her time with Melbourne Rebels in the elite rugby union Super W competition.

Singleton’s Desmond brings a wealth of experience to the squad, along with Souths Newcastle junior and Country Championships representative Graham.

Adding to the announcement of the seven NRLW players, six development players have been included in the extended squad: Bree Chester, Jesse Southwell, Kayla Romaniuk, Matilda Jones, Sophie Clancy and Tylah Vallance.

Bromilow said he was very excited to see the girls join forces to represent the Knights.

“I think we’ve got a really strong squad, now it’s about developing good people and building resilient rugby league players,” he explained.

“We’ve got international and Origin players, along with some very young, ambitious, up-and-coming players, who are ready to make a name for themselves.

“Similar to the Knights approach in 1988 by recruiting a young playing group, we’ve followed a similar path finding players that we think we can build a strong foundation for the club.”

The first game of the season is scheduled for 27 February against the Parramatta Eels at McDonald Jones Stadium.

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