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Skinner: 'We want to get it right from the start'

With the formation of the inaugural NRLW team under the nib Newcastle Knights logo comes with it the next line of players and staff to proudly represent the red and blue.

Prestigious coach, Jess Skinner, has joined the Club as an assistant to Blake Green forming the brains behind the newest team on the block.

Driven by her passion for development and giving back to the community, the mother of two was a natural fit for the Knights coaching ranks.

Skinner highlighted her excitement for the inaugural side and her role on the staff.

“It’s extremely exciting,” Skinner said.

“It’s the first time for me to have this opportunity.

“I’m super keen to hook in and get the job done under Blake.”

Meet Jess: Our NRLW Assistant Coach

Boasting a considerable coaching resume, Skinner was sought after by the Club to lead and develop the new team.

Skinner was a part of the 2019 Prime Ministers XIII side as an assistant coach and also had coaching roles within the Jillaroos development pathways.

Jess was also assistant coach for the 2021 Indigenous All stars and the head coach of the First Nation’s Gems, who won the National Championships title this year.

Ahead of Women in League Round this weekend, Skinner spoke to the growth of women’s rugby league and the significance of the round.

“It’s not just this round, there has been women in league all along,” Skinner said.

“It’s great to shine a light and remind people that there is a lot of females contributing to the game across Australia.

“I think the evidence is in the data of registration in junior leagues and we can now have girls playing all the way up to opens now.

“It’s also one of the fastest growing sports in female sport.”

Equal opportunity and commitment to community has certainly been a driving passion for Skinner.

The current deputy principal of Trangie Central School, around 450 kilometres west of Newcastle, is on leave to fulfil her new role in Newcastle. 

Skinner has been heavily involved in developing female youths across her rural community and was acknowledged with a special honour in 2018.

Jess was presented with the Women in League NRL Community Award for her inspiring work in pioneering league tag academy programs and paving the way for young girls to play the sport.

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“That was a huge honour,” Skinner said.

“For women to be able to have the option of rugby league is a great passion of mine.

“Fast forward to 2021, we have a successful tackle competition implemented and pathways to the elite level.

“I was super proud to have received that award.”

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The NRLW season for the Knights was set to begin next weekend on August 21, however, was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The competition has been rescheduled for October and will be held as a standalone event.

The disruption has thrown up it’s challenges with Skinner, although when the time comes, Green, Skinner and the players will relish the opportunity.

“For me it’s about reinforcing the standards here at the Knights and the vision we want to uphold, not just for this season but for the long term,” Skinner said.

“Newcastle has pathways in place with the successful Tarsha Gale team, their Country Championships took out the competition this year, so this is just a natural pathway for the community.

“As a female coach, it will be about providing that insight and wellbeing support.

“We do have some players that are Mums, and I’m a Mum, so given that perspective, I'll be supporting the girls.

“We want to get it right from the start and build off it every year."