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Celebrate women in league with Eels' NRLW assistant coach

This Women in League Round, meet Parramatta Eels' NRLW Assistant Coach, Kate Mullaly, who is playing her part by sharing her skills with the next generation.

If you told Kate Mullaly in 2019 what she would achieve as a coach in just two years’ time, she probably wouldn’t have believed you.

Mullaly grew up as a big rugby league fan but didn’t pull on the boots herself until she was 20.

She played eight seasons over the next decade and was part of the NSW City team that won the 2019 Women’s National Championships, which was when coaching came into the equation.

“I didn’t play in the final but it was kind of where I realised that I was happy to be on the sideline. It was literally at the Nationals tournament that I started talking to Andy Patmore and Daniel Lacey about coaching and that’s sort of where it started at that tournament,” Mullaly said.

She was quickly invited into Lacey’s New South Wales Under 18’s Women’s Origin team later that month and then took on the Cronulla Sharks Tarsha Gale Cup coaching job for 2020.

“I hadn’t coached junior league teams or anything like that, I was just drawn to coaching. I just kind of wanted to coach the athletes that I could give my skills straight over to that would understand, that’s why I started at the Tarsha Gale level at the Sharks,” Mullaly said.

“I was grateful to be given that opportunity, not having a coaching resume as such but it all happened really quickly off the back of that.”

It’s been a whirlwind start to 2021 for Mullaly, with plenty of opportunities arising in the coaching ranks.

She was named coach of the NSW City team that played in the Under 19s division at the Women’s National Championships in May before becoming the Assistant Coach of the Under 19s New South Wales team for the Women’s State of Origin in June.

Soon after she was announced as an Assistant Coach at the Eels for their inaugural NRLW season.

“I honestly didn’t expect NRLW to come up this quickly but with the expansion and then it being linked so closely to Nationals, I’d had a bit of a flow with mainly footy so I think that everything has just kind of happened at a time, so I’m just going to ride the wave and see what happens.

“I’m really passionate about being in the women’s game and I think it’s just going to grow more and more.”

While there aren’t many women in the elite coaching space currently, Mullaly says there are plenty of benefits in having female coaches at this level.

“I think for me my advantage is, and I’ve said this to Deano (Eels NRLW coach Dean Widders) and Daz (fellow Eels NRLW Assistant Coach Darrin Borthwick), is that I can come from any sort of perspective.

“I’ve been a coach, I’ve been a trainer, now I’m (working in) wellbeing and I’ve been a player. I’ve been a female player and I’ve played with and against a lot of the girls that we have and that we will be playing against.”

With NRL Round 22 being Women in League Round, Mullaly says that ‘playing her part’ in rugby league is about backing herself and sharing her knowledge.

“As a female in rugby league I have obviously been given this assistant coach role for a reason and I think just having confidence. Obviously it’s a male dominated game, it always has been and the other coaches are male.

“I think if I link it to Parramatta, Deano so far has told me what he wants me to do at training and what my job will be, so I think just backing myself and literally just playing my part.

“I don’t really look at myself as a female coach to be honest, I just look at myself as a coach. So I think just playing my part and having confidence in that.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour 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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