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Best yet to come: Women coaches to benefit from mentoring program

NSW coach Kylie Hilder said the opportunity to learn off Trent Robinson at the Roosters has been invaluable and would like to see similar access for other female coaches.

Hilder, who retired last season but has been in the coaching ranks for nearly a decade, welcomed the announcement of an inaugural NRL female coach mentoring program to begin in July. 

The program includes a two-day female coaching course and a nine-month mentoring program for 20 existing female coaches to participate in elite male training sessions and one-on-one mentoring with prominent figures in the game.

The NRL secured a $20,000 grant from Sport Australia Women Leaders In Sport last month to help fund the program, which will increase pathways and coaching skills development with those at the highest level.

Hilder will go head-to-head with former Jillaroos teammate Tahnee Norris, who will coach Queensland, in the first-ever all-female Origin coaching battle on June 25.

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She said the opportunities to collaborate with the likes of Robinson and incoming NRLW coach John Strange at the Roosters have been influential in her move into the coaching ranks. 

"The old saying is you can't be what you don't see," Hilder said.

"I think there are female coaches out there who have got that fear of taking the next step or don't think they've got the ability to do it.

"With the funding and what the NRL plan to do it's going to give women an opportunity to be able to step up and go to the next level by being mentored by some high-quality people.

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"With the NRLW kicking off soon and the new clubs coming in I think we'll see a lot of NRL coaches also do their part to help female coaches come through the system."

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said the program marked another big step forward for the women's game.

"We have more females playing rugby league than ever before, more opportunities at the elite level for women to play, and now we want to increase coaching opportunities for females at the elite level of our game," he said.

"Kylie [Hilder] and Tahnee [Norris] are creating history next week as two female head coaches of the women’s State Of Origin sides.

"We want to open up even more opportunities for women in all our elite competitions. We need men standing beside women in all aspects of our game."

Australian Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga believes the program is another step towards providing females in the game, both players and coaches, the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

"The growth of women's rugby league has been enormous and it's time we have that equity balance," Meninga said.

"I think it's a really exciting program and good pathway opportunity for women to test their skills, learn and continue to excel, particularly in the men's environment.

"This is a fantastic way to start to develop role models to inspire young girls to get into the professional world.

"To be mentored by some of the elite male coaches in our game is going to be invaluable for the 20 selected."

Aspiring coaches are encouraged to register their interest here


 Women’s Origin tickets are on sale via NRL Tickets. Supporters can watch the historic match from just $5 for juniors, $15 for adults and $35 for families

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