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In defence of the realm: NRLW Knights prepare to battle!

The stuff of legends: How these modern day Knights of the Round Table are preparing to battle ahead of the 2023 NRLW Premiership. Ben Collison catches up with NRLW Head Coach, Ron Griffiths ahead of this season’s opener.

As children, we relished the great medieval legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. A myth subject of much historical debate, the Arthurian legend’s ethos always personified the virtues of honour, gallantry, and service.

It inspired notions of nobility and what it meant to be a protector, a true defender of the realm; ultimately, what it meant to be a champion.

These virtues have been embodied by countless generations who have applied them to almost every endeavour you could name, but none in this writer’s opinion could be more apt than that of our NRLW Newcastle Knights.

Images courtesy of Holly Fuda, Newcastle Knights

Each player taking the mantle of a Knight of the Round Table, Head Coach that of Merlin and the Centre of Excellence serving as a  modern-day Camelot: our NRLW Squad are preparing to battle like the knights of old and defend the realm from the horde of rivals hammering at the gates.

If like me, you are a passionate fan of the game, you would have to go to great lengths to find a more impassioned fan base so revenant in their unwavering dedication to their team than Knights supporters. It hasn’t been easy for Knights fans in recent years, but with fielding an NRLW side and their historic premiership on the board; the outlook is very promising.

On the eve of battle, I caught up with NRLW Head Coach, Ron Griffiths. Here’s what he had to say.

Valuing the emotional and symbolic connection between the club and the Novocastrian community, what impressions did the 2022 premiership leave on the squad and how has that resonated with them as they entered preseason training for 2023?

“We have certainly spoken to them about that point in time and how the team uplifted the community and brought us all together. Seeing the support of the local community highlighted what the victory meant to them and that had a significant impact on the squad and the players joining us this season.

It meant a lot for the players to be out in the community and have people (not just rugby league fans) walk up and show their support.”

Team dynamics are constantly changing, how has the pre-season prepared the team ahead of the competition?

“We have a great dynamic throughout the squad with the girls showing a lot of grit and determination throughout the preseason. They have honoured the tradition of the club of committing to our training program and striving for success.

With several players set to make their NRLW debut, they entered preseason training with the same intensity as some of the veteran players. This mantra is shown throughout our pathways program.”

Leadership both on and off the field is quintessential for success. What approach have you taken towards fostering a winning culture and how does that flow into your position as a role model for the next generation of players?

“We make it a simple formula. By creating an environment where the girls are leading themselves first and foremost, that flows onto a cohesive dynamic both on and off the field. This becomes an extension of what we want to achieve as a club.”

The Knights are the team to beat this year, how will you keep fresh throughout the season?

“We have been fortunate to secure some great talent off-field. Our support staff have a wide range of knowledge that will enable us to freshen up the dynamic and provide a rich resource for our squad.”

The NRL has taken an incremental approach to the expansion of the competition. Do you think this is a feasible model?

“Yes, they have. It is certainly the right number of teams. The onus is now on the NRL and the community to foster systems that will produce the next crop of players and expand the game further.”

How can the Novocastrian community be part of the process?

“Our community can support us through our NRLW membership packages but ultimately be there at each game throughout the season, cheering our girls. We also hold open training sessions which is a great chance for the community in particular junior players to come along and meet the squad, watch them train and tour the Centre of Excellence.”

Click HERE to see where you can catch our Knights of the Round Table in action this season.

Feature image provided by Newcastle Knights

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