Cronulla Sharks v Newcastle Knights
Date: Saturday April 1
Venue: Southern Cross Group Stadium, Cronulla
Kick-off: 5.15pm

Squads

NEWCASTLE

1. Amy Broadhead, 2. Alicia Martin, 3. Isabelle Kelly, 4. Jayme Freesard, 5. Brooker Carter, 6. Caitlin Moran, 7. Simone Smith, 8. Bec Young, 9. Kylie Hilder, 10. Phoebe Desmond, 11. Donna Sutton, 12. Holli Wheeler, 13. Jerry Burgmann, 14. Skye Lovett, 15. Margaret Watson.

CRONULLA

1. Corban McGregor, 2. Jordan Baker, 3. Shontelle Stowers, 5. Botille Vette-Welsh, 6. Allana Ferguson, 7. Maddison Studdon, 8. Kate Mullaly, 9. Nita Maynard, 10. Ruby Ewe, 11. Kaarla Cowan, 12. Talesha Quinn, 13. Ruan Sims, 14. Rima Butler, 16. Simone Kapriani, 20. Tayla Preston

Match Analysis

It will be a huge opportunity for ladies across the Hunter and Mid North Coast to represent the Newcastle Knights in an exhibition match against the Cronulla Sharks on Saturday.

Coach Mick Young maintains they are thankful to the Knights to be able to showcase women’s rugby league and to be able to do in the red and blue.

“It’s an awesome opportunity, very appreciative that the Knights are looking to go this way to show it is a community Club with a men’s and women’s side,” said Young.

“We’ve been training since November and their commitment to wear this jumper is enormous.

“Girls travelling from all over NSW, from Singleton all the way up to Port Macquarie just for a training session, Sydney too, so I’m just over the moon for them.”

There is no shortage of talent in the inaugural Knights women’s side, matching the Sharks with four Jillaroos set to take the field.

Novocastrian and world cup champion, Bec Young, will add some firepower in the forwards with Newcastle’s Caitlin Moran and Port Macquarie’s Simone Smith heading the experience in the halves.

Isabelle Kelly will also bring some speed out wide.

“I source girls from sevens rugby, rugby union, elite touch football, they’ve all played rugby league, they all understand how tough it is and they love it,” said coach Young.

“This is their opportunity and they’ve taken it with two hands.

“They have left no stone unturned…. the professionalism, how hard they train, they’re mums, they’ve got full time jobs, full time studies, they love rugby league, they love training and they’re excited.”

With some semi-professional players on the roster, the Sharks have recorded two big wins so far this season and will be looking to notch up their third consecutive.

They welcome back Jillaroos Allana Ferguson and Ruan Sims, with the captain returning from injury.

Young believes they will be a tough opponent but is confident his girls have the ability.

“It is not really focusing on the Sharks, it’s making sure we stick to our strengths and we have a lot of strengths across the park,” he said.

“It is a nines format but we are a 13s side, we train for 13s and a lot of our game plan will be around the middle.

“We will work them over, get our big forwards out there and make space for our exciting outside backs.

“I’m quickly confident in the playing group, especially wearing a Knights jumper they understand it’s not just another game for them, this could be an opportunity that they never have again.

“They understand that commitment and responsibility and they just want to get out there for the Newcastle Knights fans.”

Where it will be won

“I think it’s going to be in the middle,” explained Young.

“We’ve got a very strong middle and if we go through the middle and try to keep them compressed, our outside halves and outside backs are smart enough to get on top of them.”

The women play after the NRL fixture at Shark Park, kick-off 5.15pm.