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Knights inaugural Tarsha Gale set sights high

2018 is the inaugural year the Knights will compete in the Tarsha Gale Cup, set to be challenged against 10 other clubs in a national competition.

The women’s Under 18s, nine-a-side competition, was established last year in an historic move for women’s rugby league, named after former Jillaroo and NSW captain Tarsha Gale from the 1990s.

The start of the season is less than two weeks away for the Knights new outfit and new coach Josh Potapczyk is thrilled with how his players are progressing before Round 1 kick-off.

“We’ve had two trials, first one being against the Canberra Raiders, which was a very successful trial and the girls exceeded all expectations,” said Potapczyk.

“They were able to implement the skills and style of play we’re trying to instil in them and after some tough trainings, they came away with a very dominant win against Canberra which was fantastic to see.

“Last weekend we played the Cronulla Sharks who were one of the competition favourites and heavyweights in the Tarsha Gale Cup last year and we learnt a lot of valuable lessons.”

Potapczyk admits he’s been impressed knowing his side can compete strongly, and not look out of place, in such a strong and talented competition.

“We have got the understanding of the speed and intensity of the game and stronger opposition, and we are definitely heading in the right direction with the style of footy that we want to play this year,” Potapczyk added.

Young ladies across the region were recently selected at the Central Hunter nines competition, chosen to represent the Knights first ever women’s Under 18s side.

Potapczyk maintains a lot of his players were also picked a year young but have so far shown tremendous development and the spirit to wear the red and blues jersey.

“The focus has been on developing their core skills and lifting their fitness to a standard that enables them to compete and be synonymous with what all Knights fans have come to expect from their teams, and that’s to be tough and have a never say die commitment,” he said. 

Potapczyk is a teacher, who has been running his school’s rugby league competitions for the past couple of years and entered a side in the country Hunter’s women’s rugby league nines last year.

He’s been in awe of the outstanding attitude his new team have displayed heading into the 2018 season and maintains the focus over the next fortnight, before their Round 1 match-up against St George, is to improve on training outcomes.

“Working on improving their tackle technique, their catch and pass skills, their ability to apply situations to attack as well as their communication and trust with each other in defence,” Potapczyk explained.

“We need to continue to work on their fitness, so we can be in the strongest position come Round 1.”

It might be their inaugural year but Potapczyk admits he has set his sights high, although his ultimate goal is to develop young players into talented footballers.

“My goal this year is to see that continual progression of improvement through the season and keep working on those skills,” he added.

“After seeing how they’ve gone in their first two trials, we thoroughly believe the girls have the capability to make the semi-finals in their first year, which would be an outstanding achievement.

“We’ve spoken about the opportunity they’ve been given to be the first Newcastle Knights junior girls side and the responsibility that comes with that, to set standards on and off the field for all the younger girls in the region who hopefully one day aspire to play in the Knights colours as well.”

(Photo credit: John Valentine)