NRLW grand final coaches John Strange and Jamie Soward hope to retain most members of their respective squads after both committed to coach in the second season later this year.
Strange, who became the third NRLW coach behind Kelvin Wright and Paul Dyer to win the competition in his maiden season, confirmed he’ll remain in charge of the Roosters in 2022.
Stability has been a major problem for the Tricolours in recent years with four coaches in four seasons but with Strange’s commitment, he’s confident it will flow amongst the playing group ahead of their title defence in less than four months.
“I’m planning on sticking around and I’d love for all the girls to still be here, they’re a great bunch of who have really connected well and achieved something special together,” Strange said.
“They do [need stability] and obviously the club needs stability too with players. I know we’re moving towards that.
“We lost a lot of players with the new teams coming in. I understood the NRL’s idea around that because otherwise we would’ve had the new sides getting whacked.
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“But now they’re changing it up a little bit so hopefully we can sign girls like Corbs [Corban Baxter] and girls we want for multiple years, then the club will get some consistency year on year.”
Soward was a revelation at the Dragons this season and wants to retain most of the squad that fell short in the decider on Sunday.
Clubs were given the green light last month to begin negotiating with players across the competition for the official 2022 season starting in August, something Soward wasn’t a fan of given they were still in their rescheduled 2021 season.
“I’d love to [keep most],” Soward said.
“The girls have adapted to my style. We know we’re going to lose some because they’ll be poached and with the salary cap now.
“I don’t understand the timing of it all. It’s baffled me we’ve had to try and sign girls [for next season] before the grand final and have their managers hassle me.
“That’s something we’ve gotten wrong. We’re hopeful of retaining most of the squad, we’re just hoping most come back. We’ve sent out some offers already.”
Soward was at his honest best after Sunday’s grand final loss but the Dragons will get their shot at redemption sooner than the usual 10-month gap between competitions.
“I’m proud of the girls who have bought in and set the standard and the culture of what it takes to be a Dragon out there,” Soward said.
“They’re such a great group and have given me their attention and bought into everything I’ve tried to set with the culture.
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“I feel sorry for them it will burn for a little while but someone had to win and someone had to lose.
“At the end of the day the Roosters were a better team, they played smarter, ran harder and won the title deservedly. I’m not going to whinge about that, we just didn’t save our best for last.”
Soward was announced as a NSW Sky Blues assistant coach earlier this week and will work under Kylie Hilder for the women's State of Origin on June 24.