Newcastle Knights players prepare for launch of inaugural NRL Touch Premiership

Jessica Potts and Rachel Jeffs will be watching the NRL a little closer, and earlier, than most this Friday.  

The Valentine teenagers get the chance to analyse their upcoming opponents before stepping onto the same main stage themselves as part of the inaugural NRL Touch Premiership.

Fresh from Australian representative duties, Potts and Jeffs have been selected to play for the Newcastle Knights this season along with 30 others.

“It should be an amazing experience playing on NRL fields and to represent my home town is even better,” Jeffs said.  

The men’s and women’s squads don the red and blue for the first time on June 30 at McDonald Jones Stadium.  

Newcastle will host the Parramatta Eels before meeting the Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium on July 21. The highest-placed side progresses to CBus Super Stadium on July 29 for the final against the best of Queensland’s three clubs – Broncos, Cowboys and Titans.   

The Eels and Tigers kick-off proceedings in Sydney as part of the NRL program for round 11.

“It’s such a great opportunity for these young players,” Knights men’s assistant coach Karley Banks said. 

“We quite often lose players to Olympic sports, but being part of the league now gives touch football a legitimate pathway. This is a chance to showcase our sport on the big stage.” 

Banks will link back up with many of her Doyalson Dragons team that won the prestigious Vawsdon Cup last year, including Australian representatives Scott Bundy and Dylan Thompson as well as the Langbridge brothers, Daniel and Alex.   

Aberglasslyn 22-year-old Jack Edwards will shift gears from basketball to touch football for the upcoming fixtures, swapping the Maitland Mustangs uniform for the Knights singlet.

“It’s great and well overdue, touch football has such a big base of players,” Edwards said.  

Both Knights’ squads were largely selected from NSW Country Mavericks representatives who played at the recent National Touch League at Coffs Harbour.  

MEN’S: Luke Tonegato, Matthew Tope, Terry Deegan, Lincoln Little, Daniel Langbridge, Jack Edwards, Dylan Thompson, Alex Langbridge, Scott Bundy, Matthew Prowse, Jake Fitzpatrick, Mitch Bourke, Bart Hill, Rob McCarthy, Tom Dafter, Mitchell Wilton.

WOMEN’S: Ainsley Hughes, Jessica Potts, Emily Hennessey, Rhiannon Podmore, Madison Crowe, Milly Hughes, Laura Coleman, Sian Filipo, Bobbi Law, Jessica McCall, Elisa Wilson, Lily Goodchild, Amy Dufour, Sophie Broadhead, Rachel Jeffs, Taryn Love.