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REAL NRL: Grace’s dream to play in NRLW a step closer

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It’s most young girls’ dreams, who have a passion for rugby league in the Hunter, to play NRLW for the Newcastle Knights one day.

And, Raymond Terrace Roosters forward Grace Langdon is no different.

That’s why the 14-year old, along with Lakes United’s Kendall Lehman, Tamika Bull (Central Newcastle) and Molly Fitzhenry (South Newcastle), loves the idea of Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) staging premier women’s tackle matches on its game day program in 2024.

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Jansen Miranda (Oporto), Grace Langdon (Raymond Terrace), Molly Fitzhenry (South Newcastle), Tamika Bull (Central Newcastle), Kendall Lehman (Lakes United) and Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League general manager Adam Devcich. Photo: Rod Thompson

The organisation announced during the week that a competition would run at the same time as the men’s Denton Engineering Cup, culminating in a grand final at McDonald Jones Stadium in September.

“It’s great news for girls in the area, knowing they can join up and play,” Grace said.

“There are so many things to like about it.

“We’ll get to play in front of bigger crowds, on better grounds, lift the profile of the sport… and have fun, too.

“But, it also presents a new opportunity.

“When I was younger, I always wanted to play for Newcastle.

“This concept provides another pathway to do that.”

The teenage front-rower said the Knights NRLW side had inspired the next generation.

“They’ve gone so well in just three seasons,” Grace told the Newcastle Weekly.

“After winning two premierships, back-to-back, they have shot to the top.

“So, to see local girls in that team, it makes you think you can do it as well.

“They’ve opened the door for me and other girls to follow in their footsteps.”

Raymond Terrace Roosters front-rower Grace Langdon. Photo: Rod Thompson

Grace admitted the future looked bright for those wishing to play rugby league.

“I started in the under-8s or 9s,” she said.

“However, you had to play with the boys until the under-12s.

“Back then, there were no girls playing the sport.

“Now, there’s just so many participating in all age groups.

“Everyone I’ve spoked to is a bit excited.

“Some of them are already in Newcastle’s development squads, but something like this will help them on their journey, too.”

All the fixtures in the Oporto Women’s Premiership will also be filmed by Bar TV.

“They currently record all the men’s games,” Newcastle Rugby League general manager Adam Devcich said.

“So, coaches of the Oporto women’s teams will have access to post-match technology.

“That, in turn, allows them to cut clips from the games to assist the mentoring and skill development of their players.”

In another boost for women’s rugby league in the region, all the stakeholders (Hunter JRL, Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League, Newcastle Rugby League, NSWRL and the National Rugby League) will have representatives on a female participation committee.

They’ll make recommendations on a range of issues in order to help shape every competition in 2024 and beyond.

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