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Newly appointed NRLW Head Coach Ben Jeffries has touched down in Newcastle to begin his tenure from the start of 2024.

Jeffries brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the role, having spent several years working in professional rugby league systems both in Australia and overseas.

His previous roles included Head Coach of the Women's Indigenous All Stars, PNG Women's National team and the North Queensland Cowboys in the NRLW competition.

Jeffries also previously played in the NRL playing 28 games between 2001-02 before going over to the English Super League where he would make over 250 appearances at the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and the Bradford Bulls.

Having grown up playing his junior footy in Newcastle while first beginning his coaching career at the Knights, the new Coach spoke about returning home to help steer the NRLW squad into the future.

We caught up with Ben to get to know him a little better.

Ben, firstly a warm welcome to the Club, you've got your feet under the desk on day one, how are you feeling?

"Yeah good, excited. I'm back home in some respects."

What attracted you to the role as NRLW Head Coach?

"Firstly, (the squad) has had success the last couple of years, but then this role is going to evolve into looking after the whole female pathways, which consists of Lisa Fiaola (Cup), Tarsha Gale (Cup), Harvey Norman (NSW Women's Premiership) and then obviously leads into the NRLW side so, just having that, all those pathways under one roof really attracted me first and foremost."

You previously coached the Knights SG Ball side back in 2013, does this feel like a full circle moment for you now?

"Absolutely, obviously the (professional) female game hadn't really started back then, but coaching SG Ball was my first initiation into elite pathway coaching.

"Jack Cogger was part of the squad back then so got a bit of a linkage there, and he's come back to the Club this season aswell.

Jeffries: 'It's time to be a Newcastle Knight again'

For those that might not know, you were born in Forster (Mid North Coast NSW) and you played your junior footy here in Newcastle, do you consider the region home for you?

"Absolutely, born and bred in Forster.

"My first introduction to elite pathways football was in this Club, 1998-99 and played Jersey Flegg. I played with some really good players in that respect.

"Obviously went on and turned professional, and (have now) come full circle years later

You started your career in the NRL before venturing over to the English Super League where you played over 250 first grade games. How do you reflect on your playing days and your time over in England?

"England was a very fond place for me.

"Staying over there for that period of time, obviously I loved it. For whatever reason I fell in love with England and I always wanted to play in England from a young age.

"I remember watching Kangaroo Tours and Challenge Cup finals, and just fell in love with it then.

"Going over at 22, I didn't think I would go there at 22 and thought I would come back three years later after my first stint. But I didn't come home until 2013.

When did you know you wanted to be a Coach?

"I put this down to Mick Potter to be honest.

"So 2012 when I retired from professional rugby league, I played with the Bradford Bulls that year and decided to retire and come home.

"Mick Potter basically pulled me aside and said 'have you thought about coaching'. I was doing my coaching certificate at that point in time over there, but never really thought about it.

"Once I started, I got the bug. It's a fulfilling role, obviously there is pressures and things that come with it, but seeing players, male and female, develop as you put some of your DNA into it, it's pretty fulfilling and rewarding.

Your coaching career has spanned the last decade with diverse roles including coaching the Papua New Guinea Women's national team, the Women's Indigenous All Stars and the inaugural Head Coach of the North Queensland Cowboys NRLW team, what did you takeaway from those experiences and how have they helped shape your principles as a coach?

"Wherever you go, it's really important to instill certain standards and expectations.

"As a coach, I'm pretty simple and keep to the basics. First and foremost, what they do off the field is just as important as on the field.

"Things like turning up for training on time, wearing uniform, please and thank you's go along way so I'm very much around that and they're my expectations.

"All these experiences from Origin, to All Stars, international (footy) and then being in elite pathways at the Cowboys has given me all those experiences to call upon."

Looking forward now, there is an exciting roster here at the Knights, the side has been successful in the last two seasons. How much are you looking forward to the challenge, meeting the squad and getting to work?

"First and foremost, it's a massive challenge. Probably the biggest challenge of my career so far.

"Obviously, (the Club) has had two years of success and Ronald (Griffiths) had done a great job with them. I caught up with him this morning and he alluded to a few things that I'm very grateful for.

"Challenging individuals to get better will be one of the targets... also to learn what has transpired and what's worked.

"I'd be mad to come in here and flip it all on its head so (to) learn what's worked and then obviously what we can evolve."