You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Meet the staff: Matthew Jay

Coming to the end of his first month in the job, new nib Newcastle Knights High-Performance Manager Matthew Jay has praised the 2023 squad for tacking what has been a challenging pre-season thus far.

38-year-old Jay, who has 13 years of NRL experience to his name, joined the Knights in late November after completing his duties with the New Zealand national team which made the semi-finals of the Rugby League World Cup in the United Kingdom.

Prior to that, Jay spent seasons 2021-22 as High-Performance Manager at the Wests Tigers after cutting his teeth over 11 years with the Cronulla Sharks.

He brings a vast array of knowledge to the Knights, including a deep understanding of the needs of young athletes having worked his way up the ladder from Harold Matthews Cup whilst in the Sutherland Shire.

The former Sydneysider says he has settled into Newcastle life seamlessly, in addition to his work on the field at the Knights Centre of Excellence.

“Everyone has been very welcoming, including all the players and coaching staff," Jay said.

“There is a really good group of people here and I’m excited to work with them.

“The group is enthusiastic, they’ve been ripping into training and that makes my life a lot easier.”

A former teacher, Jay spent eight years juggling class time with his work within the Cronulla pathways system – where he worked with the likes of Knights hooker Jayden Brailey amongst many other future first graders – before graduating to work with the Sharks NRL squad at the end of 2017.

Cronulla achieved three straight top-eight finishes between 2018-20, which coincided with Jay being appointed the Club’s Head of Athletic Performance in 2019 before he made the shift to the Tigers in 2021.

His experience working alongside then-Tigers Head Coach Michael Maguire saw him appointed to head up New Zealand's performance staff for the World Cup.

“It was an amazing opportunity to work with great players and the best of the best," Jay said.

“It was really good to see how they go about their business and understand what it takes to be elite.

“I got to lead the performance of a team of great athletes, working with great staff towards a common goal.

“We got to stay in York, and that’s a beautiful place, so we were very lucky.

“Apart from losing the Semi-Final, it was a wonderful experience.”

Whilst still in the UK, Jay was instrumental in planning for and delivering the opening weeks of the Knights pre-season, which officially kicked off on 2 November.

Now firmly back on home turf and embedded in the Knights organisation, Jay has overseen a gruelling campaign with a new-look squad to that which finished the 2022 season in early September.

With only a brief break for Christmas and New Year, the Knights work will continue with trials in February ahead of round one against the New Zealand Warriors in Wellington on 3 March.

And while his immediate focus is on ensuring the NRL team has the best possible preparation for season 2023, Jay says his work in the High Performance and medical areas of the business will ultimately expand far beyond just the here and now.

"Our focus right now is nailing the pre-season, to set up the 2023 season," Jay said.

“I have quickly learnt this is a rugby league town and what comes with a one-team town, and if that team is successful, it translates into many other avenues of the Newcastle lifestyle.

“I’m looking forward to being involved in all these parts, including making sure we utilise our wide pathways network to create the next generation of Newcastle Knights players.”