27/05/2024

Knights girls preparing for the season ahead. Photo: newcastleknights.com.au

Possessing a mix of established talent and young blood from the region, the Knights are looking like a wildcard contender heading into their first season.

The Knights will be looking to cause a few upsets in their inaugural season in the NRLW, with a talented squad of players, who have all taken very different pathways to reach the Telstra Premiership.

Last year:

Newcastle missed out on making their competition bow in 2021 after the NRLW campaign was postponed due to COVID-19.

Former Bronco Romy Teitzel was one of the few players to see any meaningful action in 2021, after starring for the North Queensland Gold Stars in the BHP Premiership. The fullback picked up the competition’s player of the year award after scoring nine tries in eight games and receiving a first Maroons call-up before linking up with the Knights.

With a mix of local juniors, rep players, and cross-code athletes, the Knights head into the new season as underdogs to lift the Premiership, but they may just spring a few surprises.

As many as 13 members of their squad have yet to play in the NRLW, but a number of them have already played Test footy, such as five-eighth Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly, who’s one of nine Kiwi Ferns internationals in the squad.

Stephens-Daly is also one of the many cross-code players at the Knights, having previously played rugby sevens for New Zealand, while Paige Parker has moved over from the AFLW, having also represented Australia at touch rugby.

Newest recruit Kirra Dibb is one of the more experienced NRLW players in the squad. The New South Wales representative has featured for the Roosters and the Warriors in the competition, as well as collecting caps for the Jillaroos, the Prime Minister’s XIII and Australia’s nines team.

Squad Changes

Ins:

Caitlan Johnston, Bobbi Law (Sydney Roosters), Jayme Fressard (Brisbane Broncos), Georgia Page (St. George Illawara Dragons), Romy Teitzel (North Queensland Gold Stars), Phoebe Desmond, Chantelle Graham, Kyra Simon (Local comps), Bree Chester, Sophie Clancy, Matilda Jones, Kayla Romaniuk, Jesse Southwell, Tylah Vallance (Development players), Ngatokotoru Arakua, Maitua Feterika, Annetta Nu’uausala, Charntay Poko, Krystal Rota, Charlotte Scanlan, Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly, Katelyn Vaha’akolo, Kararaina Wira-Koku (Kiwi Ferns), Paige Parker (AFLW), Rangimarie Edwards-Bruce, Katie Green, Emma Manzelmann, Tahlulah Tillett (QLD), Kirra Dibb (New Zealand Warriors)

Outs:

Emma Sykes (Released)

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Track watch:

The Knights look set to start the new season with a fully fit squad, with all nine of their players selected for the Harvey Norman All Stars game making it through the match unscathed.

Caitlan Johnston, Bobbi Law, Bree Chester, Kirra Dibb, Kyra Simon, and Tahlulah Tillett were all named in the Indigenous All Stars Squad, while Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly, Katelyn Vaha’akolo, and Krystal Rota featured for the Maori All Stars.

Predicted round one lineup:

Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly and Charntay Poko look the most likely starting halves, but Kirra Dibb could grab a starting berth, given her previous NRLW experience.

Development players Bree Chester and Kayla Romaniuk have a chance of making the match day squad, having been pictured in training with the first grade side.

Much will depend on the All Stars players making it through that game without picking up any injuries.

Ladder range:

3rd-4th

With a newly-formed team and a number of players who are yet to play in the NRLW, it’s difficult to see the Knights making a Grand Final push this year. However, with the number of rep players in their side, they might just be one of the competition’s surprise packages.

Much will depend on how quickly the team gels in the opening weeks of the season, but with a halves pairing who’ve played together at international level and a fullback who picked up a player of the year trophy in 2021, they should be competitive throughout the year.


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