After her debut season as assistant coach of the Newcastle Knights' NRLW side, Jess Skinner is unsure if she will return to the role at the end of the year. The 2021 NRLW season came to a thrilling end on Sunday with the Sydney Roosters defeating the St George Dragons in the grand final, with the Knights missing the finals.
The 2021 season was played in early 2022 after the original schedule for the competition had to be moved, meaning the players will have two seasons in the same year. With the players keen to return, Skinner said she isn't so sure whether she will be back in round one of the 2022 season.
"I did get asked to come back for the second season as assistant coach again but at this stage, it's up in the air with how the game is and how professional coaches aren't full time in that space," she said
"It's a big gap between the two seasons, I'm actually at this moment transitioning into work in the NRL with the pathways system.
"So there are some really cool campaigns coming out with the National Champs and obviously it's a World Cup year, not that I'm a part of that. But with the expansion coming, I'm trying to help develop the pathways so there is a pool of girls coming through. So that may clash at the back end of the year but I'm not too sure at the moment."
While the Knights did not make the knockout stage of the tournament, Skinner said it was great to be part of the club's first NRLW season.
"It felt like the three months were so long but went so quick, it's hard to explain the timing of it all," she said.
"It can and went, there were definitely some ups and downs, obviously not getting some wins but we left a really good foundation for the club to be able to build upon. They have another opportunity to go again at the end of the season which is really exciting."
Skinner is set to start her new role at the NRL next Monday and knows she has a big decision to make about her future with the Knights.
"At this stage, I still have a really positive relationship with the Knights, so I can keep coming in and out through the weeks," she said.
"It's just about timing at the moment, with the two seasons in the one year. Just like players you have to manage your workload with your family and the game."
With the competition to expand from six to eight teams, Skinner knows the Women's game is headed in the right direction.
"It was such a great standard of rugby league, all the data is pointing in the right direction with the extra 10 minutes in the game," she said.
"All the teams did so great, I can't believe the Roosters, I'm so happy for them."
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