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Newcastle women's coach Rick Stone.

Former Knights coach Rick Stone remains open to the prospect of coaching at a high level again but has put his immediate career on hold so he can spend more time with his family.

Stone, who coached the Knights 72 times in two separate stints between 2009 and 2015, returned to Australia after a stint in the English Super League with Huddersfield and has since taken the reins of the CRL women's team in Newcastle.

While Stone was living and coaching in England, his family remained in Australia for most of that time. During that time his son Sam earned a spot in the Knight's 30-man squad - a role he will fill again in 2019.

"I've been back since the middle of last year and haven't really done anything football-wise," Stone told

"I've been looked after with a few jobs at Country Rugby League. Coaching the women's side, it was a good fit. I've got a young bloke who's 11 and I wanted to stay around home for the next couple of years.

"They've got some decent players and train locally. It wasn't a massive amount of travel apart from games in Sydney."

CRL Newcastle and Roosters Isabelle Kelly.
CRL Newcastle and Roosters Isabelle Kelly. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

The CRL Newcastle team competes in the NSW women's premiership (equivalent to the men's Intrust Super Premiership) and was coached previously by former Knights utility Mick Young and his wife, Indigenous All Stars forward Rebecca Young.

The team boasts representative players including Australian trio Isabelle Kelly, Holli Wheeler and Hannah Southwell.

"I spoke to people like Mick Young and Kylie Hilder, it sparked my interest and things went from there," Stone said.

"We got down to what the program would look like and how we were going to do it. I've only been with the girls for a couple of weeks but I've enjoyed it.

"We're getting some professionalism brought in with some people I've worked with before at the Knights.

"Their attitude and commitment is second to none. You see and appreciate more the sacrifices in their normal lives to get to training and play."

Stone said the long-term goal for the community is a spot in the NRLW competition and strengthening the lower-tier pathways in the Hunter Valley would help achieve that goal.

"That's the next step for them, to get a NRLW team playing in Newcastle," Stone said.

"There is still a gap, you'd think over time and natural progression that will evolve and get to a stage where the AFL or football is."

Holli Wheeler hopes to get back into Jillaroos colours.
Holli Wheeler hopes to get back into Jillaroos colours. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

Rebecca Young, who captained the Prime Ministers XIII side in October last season, said Stone's experience had already been rubbing off on the players.

"We felt it was time that we refresh and with the girls going to an elite level we wanted to have a coaching staff to reflect that," Young said.

"We've had three weeks with him already but it feels like we are training like professional athletes.

"It's at that level every day. He's got the ability to command something but in a nice way that it makes you want to do it.

"We've got so many young girls that he's inclusive of everyone as well."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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