The Maitland Pickers have fired their first shot in chasing this year’s inaugural Oporto Women’s Premiership.
After dominating the Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) Denton Engineering Cup for the past few seasons, winning back-to-back titles, the club is now hoping to tower above their rivals in the female arena, too.
And, they’ve began their campaign impressively, signing highly-credentialled mentor Russell Grigg.
He brings a wealth of experience to the role, according to Maitland president John Gorman.
“We’re extremely lucky to have Russell on board as we transition into expanding the Pickers’ growth towards the women’s game,” he said.
“There’s not much he hasn’t done recently after winning a premiership in 2022 and reaching the grand final in 2023.
“On top of that, he’s also taken the reins as the women’s head coach of successful representative teams, inclusive of NSW Country at the 2022 NRL National Championships (national champions) and Newcastle/Maitland Region Knights at the Country Championships from 2019 to 2022 (premiers 2021, grand finalists 2022).
“So, we’re delighted to welcome him to the Pickers’ coaching group.
“It’s a great result for our club.
“To secure a coach of Russell’s standing to help shape Maitland’s women’s team and contribute to the pathways evolvement for girls of our local affiliate organisations, aspiring to one day play at the Pickers or higher, is something we’re really looking forward to supporting him with.”
Grigg was equally thrilled with his decision to join the Real NRL powerhouse.
“I’m passionate about the incredible opportunity this presents for me to develop as a coach,” he said.
“I am eager to learn from experienced mentors such as Matt Lantry.
“Honestly, I’m just looking to fully immerse myself in the club’s culture.
“The Pickers provide a dynamic environment that encourages personal growth, passion and a collective dedication to achieving excellence, which is the perfect environment for female athletes and coaches to thrive in.”
Maitland is now seeking sponsors to support the Oporto Women’s Premiership squad in its debut campaign.
“If anyone wants to get behind the side and/or the pathways development program, reach out to us via [email protected] or direct message our FB page,” Gorman said.
“Any player keen to have a run is also encouraged to contact the Pickers.
“Either DM the club or email [email protected].”
Pre-season training is already underway each Tuesday from 6pm at Somerset Park, Thornton.
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