Queensland Women’s Representative team coach Brad Donald has been appointed as Jillaroos head coach and will be supported by New South Wales Performance Programs Manager Jamie Feeney as assistant coach.
The Harvey Norman Jillaroos unveiled their new coaching staff in what is shaping as one of the most important years for the national women’s team.
Former Jillaroos and Queensland Women’s legend, Karyn Murphy will also support the team in a mentoring and development role.
Karyn Murphy in action for Queensland in her last Women's Interstate Challenge appearence.
Donald, Feeney and Murphy bring more than three decades of professional playing and coaching experience to the Jillaroos, who are preparing to defend their 2013 Rugby League World Cup title at the end of 2017.
Donald said he was humbled by the opportunity to coach the national women’s side, with the team in a fantastic position to capitalise on increased audience, sponsorship and pathways developed over the past few years.
“Women’s rugby league is the fastest growing area of our game and the Harvey Norman Jillaroos have been building a strong focus and commitment both on and off the field for a number of years,” Donald said.
“All the players who have represented Australia have been exemplary ambassadors for our game and it is an exciting time to be part of the squad, with a World Cup to defend in a years’ time on home soil.”
NRL Head of Football, Brian Canavan congratulated Donald and Feeney on their appointments and said the future of the Jillaroos would only continue to strengthen.
“It was a fantastic occasion to witness the double-header Test Match in Newcastle earlier this year, when our Kangaroos and Jillaroos players stood proudly side by side,” Mr Canavan said.
“The Jillaroos are in very capable and experienced hands with the new coaching staff and I wish them well as they embark on the next chapter in our game.”
A squad of 30 current and up-and-coming Jillaroos players will assemble on the Gold Coast this week for a training camp, ahead of their first assignment in Auckland as part of the 2017 Auckland Nines in February.
Brad Donald is the current Queensland Women’s Representative coach and has been in the position since 2013. In that time, Queensland has retained their hold on the Nellie Doherty Cup in the Women’s Interstate Challenge against New South Wales.
Donald is also the NRL’s Participation Strategy and Projects Manager, a role which includes overseeing the development of the female game nationwide. Previously, Donald was the NRL Game Development Manager for Queensland.
Donald’s extensive coaching history also includes High Performance positions at the Canberra Raiders; including as SG Ball Head Coach/NYC Assistant Coach.
An icon of the women’s game, Karyn Murphy played in Queensland’s inaugural Interstate Challenge match against New South Wales in 1999 and went on to captain her state to an incredible 16 consecutive Interstate Challenge wins, before retiring in 2014.
Murphy was also instrumental in playing for the Jillaroos throughout her career, with a highlight including captaining the team to Rugby League World Cup supremacy in 2013.
In 2014, Murphy was presented with a commemorative jersey, honouring her service to rugby league by then NRL CEO Dave Smith at a Queensland Rugby League gala dinner.
Murphy was also honoured as Queensland Women’s Representative Player number one.
Murphy continues to play a role within rugby league and is an inspiration to many young girls and women rising through the playing ranks.
Jamie Feeney is a retired professional NRL player, having spent six years with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and two years with the Melbourne Storm.
Post playing, Jamie went on to coach Melbourne’s feeder team on the Central Coast, in the New South Wales Cup. He has spent the past five years coaching in the Country Rugby League system, including as Country Rugby League’s Firsts coach for the last three years.
In the last two years, Feeney has also been the NSW Rugby League’s Performance Programs Manager, assisting with coaching and developing the NSW Rugby League Junior Origin teams’ and the Women’s Origin Pathways squad and team.