Halifax Panthers are delighted to announce the appointment of Amy Hardcastle as our Women’s and Girls Rugby League Development Officer.
The Leeds Rhinos and England Women’s star centre takes up the role with her hometown club heading into a huge 2024 season for the Panthers. Hardcastle began her playing career at local community giants Siddal ARLFC before representing Bradford Bulls and St Helens. Subsumed in her role will be the assistant coach job for the women’s team, joining the coaching staff currently being assembled in the off season. The 34 year old is a big coup for the club, with her international experience and drive vital to the Panthers aspirations moving forward.
And Hardcastle was buoyed by the prospect of making an immediate impact with the Panthers.
“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 think that’s one of my strengths that I do understand people and their emotions, why we behave certain ways and I feel like once you understand people, you can get the best out of them. You can’t coach everybody the same and sometimes that’s where you can fall short, everybody gets coached the same but you can’t do that because in rugby league, everyone has different needs.”
“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.”
When questioned about the development of the Women’s game in and around Calderdale, Hardcastle continued: “I personally feel like there’s opportunities that can sometimes be missed at a lower level. I think where I’ve benefitted is being in a professional environment for a long time and how many benefits that has on you not only as as a player but as a person as well. I feel that the Panthers can definitely provide that for the players. To be on board and be able to bring that professional background, suggestions and things that I’ve learned along the way, it can help the girls massively.”
“I look back to when I was starting out at Siddal, I was pushing 18 and there wasn’t really any opportunities then. I feel like if there was, the last couple of years you might have seen something but we’re losing a lot of really talented players to different clubs because there isn’t anything around here but there needs to be a team that you want to play for and that you’re serious about. I feel like we can definitely do that and provide that. We’re unique people coming out of Halifax, there’s been some unbelievably talented players come from the area which is great for our community but I also think on the edges of the town as well. Maybe not in this postcode but just on the brink, seeing what we’re doing at the Panthers is exciting and that there’s going to be some great opportunities for everyone.”
“I think we’ve got to have realistic goals. I think it’s about having the correct team at the Panthers, making sure we’re all on the same page and wanting the best for the team. Progressing through each season, obviously wanting to finish top and get pushed up depending on where we’re going to start in the league structure, which is yet to be known. But I feel like if we set small goals and work on them, obviously the aim would be to hit Super League one hundred percent but we’ve got to start off small, work through it slowly and see where we can take it. My goal is to get participation up in Calderdale so then we’ve got a good pool of players that we can pick from each season and progress to make it a fantastic team.”
Panthers CEO Damian Clayton enthused: “We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Amy back to her roots as the clubs 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 in her hometown of Halifax to play the greatest game!”