Leeds Rhinos and England ace Amy Hardcastle has taken on the newly-created role of ‘Women’s and Girls Rugby League Development Officer’ at hometown club Halifax Panthers.
Hailing from the town, Hardcastle has become one of the most recognisable faces in the women’s game.
The centre – who crossed for a brace of tries in the 60-0 rout of Wales at Headingley earlier this month – made her international debut back in 2009 and is one of the most capped players in the team’s history.
At club level, she’s won pretty much everything there is to win, playing for Siddal, Bradford Bulls, St Helens and most recently Leeds Rhinos, joining the Rhinos ahead of 2023 in a major coup for Lois Forsell’s side.
And while she will be continuing with her own playing career come 2024, and looking to improve upon a Super League Grand Final defeat to York Valkyrie, the 34-year-old will now also be focusing on ‘the next generation’ at The Shay.
Leeds Rhinos and England star Amy Hardcastle takes up coaching role with Championship club: ‘ I’m very passionate about the next generation’
The Panthers confirmed Hardcastle’s appointment in a press release this afternoon, with the role also seeing the England icon assuming the assistant coach role for the club’s women’s team.
Speaking to the club website, Hardcastle said: “It’s brilliant. I thought years ago when I started out with rugby, about 10 years into my career, will I ever have any links with the Panthers, and to be honest it kind of came out of nowhere.
“But I believe everything happens for a reason and for me, being from Halifax, I think it’s a great opportunity for the club and for myself to come in, make a difference and bring my experience.
“This is a bit of a challenge to me but I suppose the last couple of years, I’ve been really working on myself and developing as a coach. I do feel like I’ve got a lot to give, I’ve got a lot of experience. I think the biggest thing is just understanding people and understanding them as players.
“I’m on a journey doing this and coming on as assistant, I can take that pressure off the head coach and in terms of development, help people be the best that they can be.
“I feel I can be a role model to younger players, I’m very passionate about the next generation and giving them the platform that I never had. There’s so many good things happening at the club at the minute and I’m excited about where we can take it.”
‘The perfect role model’: Hardcastle hailed by Panthers chief
Halifax are also currently on the lookout for a candidate to take up the hotseat in the dugout for the women’s first team ahead of 2024, with long-term ambitions to reach the Super League.
No matter who comes in to head the team up, CEO Damian Clayton believes they’ll have the perfect number two in Hardcastle, who he believes is ‘the perfect role model’.
Clayton added: “We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Amy back to her roots as the club’s inaugural Women’s and Girls Development Officer.
“Her appointment is a testament to her remarkable achievements in rugby league and is a clear signal of intent substantiating our club’s progressive vision.
“Her exceptional skills, unwavering passion, and deep understanding of the sport make her the perfect role model for advancing women’s rugby league in our community.
“We are excited to witness the significant impact she will have on nurturing talent and inspiring young athletes.”