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NRLW: Knights assembling impressive squad to defend back-to-back titles

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The Newcastle Knights are quickly assembling an impressive squad to defend its back-to-back NRLW premierships.

Coach Ben Jeffries, taking over the reins of Ronald Griffiths, recently completed his first roster for the 2022 and 2023 champions, headed by NSW State of Origin stars Caitlan Johnston, Olivia Higgins and Yasmin Clydsdale, as well as reigning Dally M Player of the Year Tamika Upton.

The girls begin their title defence – and quest for a three-peat – against the Sydney Roosters at McDonald Jones Stadium on Thursday 25 July.

Since starting his new role in January, Jeffries has been working across all levels of female participation and development pathway programs, with the pinnacle being the upcoming NRLW season.

The final squad is a balanced mixture of existing contracted NRLW players, supported by emerging youngsters and a sprinkle of exciting newcomers, including New Zealand Rugby Union converts Isabella Waterman and Grace Kukutai.

“It’s very similar to the 2023 NRLW list,” he said.

“When I arrived, most spots were already determined, with a strong contingent of contracted players retained and some pathway players pushing through to the top squad. 

“My immediate focus was adding some specific new talent to compliment the current line-up.

“Grace and Isabella fitted this profile perfectly, along with promoting Evah McEwen to the development list.

“One of our key objectives is nurturing local players through our pathways systems, while evolving and retaining existing NRLW talent like Tayla Predebon, who has extended her contract until 2026.

“And, we look forward to announcing more in the near future.”

Jeffries spoke about the leadership style he will apply to the group he has assembled, with new fresh faces added both on and off the field.

“We will be approaching the season with a diverse internal outlook,” he said.

“Previous successes will continue to be respected and celebrated.

“We’ll embrace the back-to-back premierships history to help drive us forward.

“We expect to be the hunted and acknowledge we will need to evolve.

“Being the hunted is a privilege not a limitation.

“This will challenge our playing group individually and collectively to prepare for whatever comes at us.”

The Knights will kick off official NRLW training on Monday 3 June.

2024 NRLW Top 24

  • Abigail Roache
  • Caitlan Johnston
  • Evie Jones
  • Georgia Roche
  • Grace Kukutai
  • Hannah Southwell
  • Isabella Waterman
  • Jacinta Carter
  • Jayde Herdegen
  • Jesse Southwell
  • Jules Kirkpatrick
  • Kayla Romaniuk
  • Laishon Albert-Jones
  • Nita Maynard
  • Olivia Higgins
  • Rima Butler
  • Shanice Parker
  • Sheridan Gallagher
  • Simone Karpani
  • Tamerah Leati
  • Tamika Upton
  • Tayla Predebon
  • Viena Tinao
  • Yasmin Clydsdale

2024 NRLW Development List

  • Lilly-Ann White
  • Leah Ollerton
  • Evah McEwen
  • Leilani Ah Sam

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