Retired playmaker Blake Green is poised to be appointed coach of the inaugural Newcastle Knights women's team to play in an expanded NRLW competition this season.
In a major development for the women's game in Newcastle and the Northern NSW area, the Knights are set to announce they will field a side in the elite competition for the first time, a year ahead of schedule.
The club always had its sights set on joining the NRLW premiership in 2022 but the NRL's push to expand the competition from four to six teams this year has prompted the Knights to reconsider their plans.
An official announcement from the NRL regarding the revamped competition is imminent.
The current competition kicked off in 2018 involving four teams - Sydney Roosters, Dragons, Warriors and Broncos.
Knights CEO Phil Gardner was reluctant to divulge any details about the club's involvement ahead of an official announcement but admitted the club has been in talks with the NRL.
"I can confirm we have had discussions in relation to the women's competition but until such time as it is all finalised, I can't really tell you too much," Gardner told the Newcastle Herald.
"It's no secret that as a club, we are totally committed to providing young women from Newcastle and from all over Northern NSW as well as young men with a pathways to the elite game and have always said our goal was to field a team in the NRLW competition by 2022.
"Nothing has changed in that regard. We have the centre of excellence set to open later in the year and that will be a facility not just for the guys but also for the girls."
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The Newcastle Herald understands Green, who only announced his retirement from the NRL a few weeks ago, will be put in charge of the women's team in his first coaching assignment for the club and is already in the process of actively talking to potential players.
A number of well-known local players, including the likes of Hannah Southwell, Mel Howard and Yasmine Meakes, have already been playing in the NRLW competition with the Sydney Roosters.
Once the competition expansion is announced, there are suggestions a draft will be held involving the best players in the game in a bid to spread the talent across all six clubs.
The teams will play five games against their rivals prior to a top four semifinal series with the decider to be held on NRL grand final day.
Depending on how the draw pans out, it's understood the Knights are keen to have the women playing home games at McDonald Jones Stadium on the same day as the NRL side for maximum exposure.
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