Soward puts hand up for NSW job as pressure grows

Scott Bailey |

Jamie Soward has expressed interest in becoming the next NSW women’s State of Origin coach.
Jamie Soward has expressed interest in becoming the next NSW women’s State of Origin coach.

Jamie Soward has put his hand up to take over as NSW women’s State of Origin coach if the position becomes vacant, as pressure mounts on Kylie Hilder to keep her job.

NSW slumped to a third series loss in four years under Hilder on Thursday night, letting a 1-0 series lead and 10-4 advantage late in game two slip away.

The Sky Blues were then particularly poor on Thursday night in Townsville, beaten 22-6 as they only got to their kick six times in the 70-minute match.

NSW looked nothing like the side that dominated the series opener in Brisbane last month, with several key players now under pressure to keep their spots.

Rachael Pearson had a poor night at No.7 and fullback Emma Tonegato made two errors leading to tries, with Jesse Southwell and Teagan Berry options to come in.

But Hilder could face the most heat.

The former NSW dummy-half is employed as coach on a year-by-year basis, and as is protocol will be asked to present to the board after the representative period.

Blues coach Kylie Hilder.
Blues coach Kylie Hilder is under pressure after NSW lost the State of Origin series. (Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS)

The NSWRL board will then also review the series and decide whether to extend Hilder’s contract, look elsewhere, or ask the coach to meet again and fight for her job.

Soward has already confirmed his interest in the job, if it becomes available.

The St George Illawarra coach was previously an assistant to Hilder in the lead-up to their victory in 2022, before COVID-19 meant he missed the one-off game.

He has not been employed as a Sky Blues assistant since.

“I want to interview if there’s a chance,” he told AAP.

“I’d love to coach the Sky Blues.”

Wests Tigers NRLW coach Brett Kimmorley, who spent time in NSW camp this year, and under-19s NSW women’s coach Kate Mullaly are among other early options.

Hilder’s assistant Ruan Sims and two-time NRLW-winning-coach Ronald Griffiths could also potentially figure. 

The current women’s season structure would allow Soward or Kimmorley to coach club and state.

Soward is also keen to sort an extension with the Dragons, given he has a mutual option for next season that both he and the club must agree to activate.

The former NSW men’s playmaker took the Dragons to a grand final in his maiden 2021 season, before rebuilding the roster last year after an exodus of players.

The Dragons finished seventh last year, but have been able to retain almost all of their roster for 2024 with the biggest contingent of NSW under-19 representatives.

“We have shown the path, we have the youngsters coming through,” Soward said. 

“We also have experience now and people who want to be at our club for that reason. 

“I am keen to extend and see this through. I don’t want to just be here for another year, I want to be here for the next four or five years. 

“I am committed long-term to seeing this through.”