Newcastle Knights secure Port Stephens rugby league whiz Lilly-Ann White on two year Development contract

Outstanding Port Stephens rugby league prospect Lilly-Ann White has secured a two year Development contract with the champion Newcastle Knights NRLW squad.

RUBBING shoulders with world class colleagues on the training field has inspired Port Stephens rugby league dynamo Lilly-Ann White to unprecedented heights.

The gifted utility who hails from Tea Gardens has secured a two-year NRLW development contract with the mighty Newcastle Knights and is a rookie to watch in 2024.

Seventeen-year-old White has earned a promotion to the top grade after her outstanding deeds last season in the Knights’ Pathways system and skilful performances in the Junior League and schoolgirls ranks.

Lilly-Ann and Wingen’s rising hooker Leah Allerton took up development contracts with the powerhouse Newcastle club and will train alongside some of the biggest names in women’s rugby league as they chase an NRLW three-peat this year under new Head Coach Ben Jeffries.

One of White’s high profile team mates is mercurial Queensland and Jillaroos fullback Tamika Upton, who capped a memorable 2023 by winning the Dally M Player of the Year Medal and a second Karyn Murphy Medal as best on ground in the Grand Final after clinching back to back premierships with the Knights.

The spring-heeled Upton is a role model for the versatile teenager who marvels at the turn of pace, tricky sidestep and natural ball skills of the game’s number one female player.

Just like her idol, Lilly-Ann made a huge impact at fullback for the Knights last season to clinch the Under 19 Tarsha Gale Cup Player of the Year Award.

Her vision and class also shone through with the Raymond Terrace Magpies in the Newcastle-Hunter Women’s Regional A Grade competition.

Respected Hunter Rugby League representative mentor Russell Grigg told News Of The Area that the teen sensation “has the credentials to go a long way”.

Grigg, who will coach the Maitland Pickers womens A Grade team in 2024, guided the Magpies to a Grand Final appearance last season where they were pipped 12-10 by Lakes United.

“Lilly-Ann turned in mature performances as a half back and proved to be one of the best players in the competition with her natural ball skills and determination,” he revealed.

The former Hunter River High School student also starred at five eighth for NSW Combined High Schools at the Australian Secondary Schools Under 18 National Girls championships at Redcliffe, steering the Blues to another title.

Lilly-Ann, who played her early junior football with the Raymond Terrace Roosters, stamped herself one of the best young prospects in the country with top displays at the Brisbane carnival.

She was at her creative best in an emphatic 38-8 Grand Final victory over the previously unbeaten Queensland side in the championship final, earning a late call up to the Australian Schoolgirls Under 18s squad.

Lilly-Ann impressed keen judges as a lock forward when the Australian Schoolgirls toppled the Papua New Guinea Junior Orchids 26-0 in only their second-ever test match at the Santos National Football Stadium in Port Moresby.

With a step up in class in 2024, the rising utility continues to work hard during the NRLW pre-season and broaden her rugby league education.

By Chris KARAS

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