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Upton to spearhead Knights NRLW charge into the future

Premiership-winning nib Newcastle Knights fullback Tamika Upton has secured her future long-term signing a five-year deal with the Club ahead of the start of the 2023 NRL Telstra Women’s Premiership season.

The three-time Queensland representative and 2022 Karyn Murphy Medallist’s new contract will see her remain in red and blue until at least the end of 2027.

Upton joined the Club ahead of last season and was instrumental in the Knights charge to Premiership glory.

She scored five tries in as many appearances, winning every match she featured in, taking her career try scoring tally in NRLW competition to 17 in the process.

“My experience at the Knights has been fantastic since the day I arrived,” Upton said.

“Last year I was honoured to be a part of such a close-knit group of players and coaches, and I felt my game really develop under Ronald’s coaching.

“With the squad the Club is assembling for 2023 and beyond, and the passionate support the team gets from the Hunter region, it made sense to commit my long-term future here.

“I am really excited to have my next five years sorted and can’t wait for the 2023 NRLW season to get started.”

26-year-old Upton grew up in Blackwater in central Queensland, and after playing rugby league as a child went onto represent Australia in Touch Football in 2017.

Following a stint for the Yeppoon Seagulls women’s side in 2018, she was signed by the Brisbane Broncos where she debuted in round one of the 2019 NRLW season.   

She won the 2019 and 2020 NRLW Premierships with Brisbane before claiming a third career title at the Knights last season.

In addition to her commitment to the Club and the region, Upton says she is also committed to being a leader for the organisation both on and off the field.

“Being a leader on the field and in the community is something I take very seriously, and I am looking forward to growing in this space with the Knights,” Upton said.

Knights Director of Football Peter Parr says Upton’s signing is a landmark occasion for the Club.

“We believe Tamika is arguably the best player in the game and we are thrilled that she is the first player to sign on with the Club for the long-term,” Parr said.

“She will not be the last.

“Tamika brings supreme athletic ability and football smarts to our team. But she is far more than that – she is a leader, a great community contributor, and a wonderful role model for our Club and for those who follow the game.

“There is great optimism around the place for what we can achieve as a team and as a Club in upcoming NRLW seasons and Tamika’s signing for five years should be seen as the first of many votes of confidence in what we are building here.”

Upton will feature alongside numerous other NLRW Premiership winning teammates and emerging talent this Saturday, when they line up for the Newcastle Knights Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership at St Johns Oval, Charlestown.

The final round match against the Cronulla Sharks kicks off at midday, with the result potentially determining if Ronald Griffiths team play semis finals football next weekend.