Madi Crowe returns for her second Touch Premiership season with the Newcastle Knights. Image via Knights Media.

The Newcastle Knights are set to begin their 2019 NRL Touch Premiership campaign this weekend, with both the men’s and women’s teams playing curtain-raiser matches ahead of the NRL clash against the St George Illawarra Dragons on Sunday.

The Touch Premiership has seen an expansion in 2019, blossoming out to 26 game days over five months. The league now features eight teams, of which the Knights will play six between May 19 and August 1.

“We’re very much looking forward to this opening game against Parramatta at Glen Willow, we’re having a captain’s run on Saturday afternoon before the big game and everyone is good to go,” Knights coach Mick Moussa said ahead of the season opener.

Moussa, who takes the helm of the Knights’ touch side after leading the Australian under 20s side in the 2018 World Cup, said he is looking to a handful of talented ‘dangerwomen’ that he expects to light Mudgee alight come Sunday morning.

“Madi [Crowe] is one of our fastest players, and she’s bringing a lot of World Cup experience into the team, she’s one to keep your eyes on,” he said. “Another one is Jessica Potts, who played with the Aussie under 20s last year, and is in her second season with the Knights so I’m expecting her to bring that leadership to the side.

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“There’s also an exciting young girl that we’ve brought in this year, Sophie Crouch, who will be playing on the wing for us. She’s a really strong young talent and she’s going to bring that excitement on the field for us for sure.”

Considering the Touch Premiership season sees the Knights play just six games across their 2019 season, with three of those at home venues and three of them on the road, Moussa knows “every point matters” if the side wants to qualify for finals.

Rhiannon Podmore brings international touch experience to the Knights side in 2019. Image via Knights Media.

“It’s really important to get wins, especially against Parramatta this weekend,” he said. “They’re probably favourites for the competition, but with just six games you can’t afford to lose early on and the girls all know that.

“Once you get that first win you can get rolling into the last games, so it’s very important to make sure you’ve got that confidence on early.”

Knights chief executive Philip Gardner has also thrown his weight behind the support of the competition, billing it as “bigger and better” than the inaugural year.

“This is a fantastic event with some of the best touch players in the country,” Gardner said. “I urge all Novocastrians to show their support and cheer on our Knights touch teams this season.”

The Knights’ fixture in Mudgee will kickoff at 12pm. All matches this season will be broadcast live and on-demand via Kayo. The broadcast schedule can be seen at touchfootball.com.au/2019-nrl-touch-premiership-draw.