Hannah Southwell will don the Newcastle Knights jersey for the upcoming NRLW season.
The lock-forward has spent the past three seasons with the Sydney Roosters where she helped secure the 2021 Premiership.
Returning to where it all began, Southwell said she was proud to represent her hometown.
“It’s a very exciting opportunity to be able to wear the red and blue colours, having grown up in Newcastle and loved watching the Knights,” she said.
“To be able to have that opportunity and play for Newcastle, to be part of the greats like Kurt Gidley and Danny Buderus, I remember watching them growing up and going wow I’d love to do that, so yeah, it’s amazing to be a part of that culture.”
Newcastle Knights and Wests Group CEO Philip Gardner said he was elated to have a player of Southwell’s calibre and experience join the club.
“We are very excited to sign a premiership winner for our second season in the competition,” Gardner said.
“Hannah joins a very strong line-up for the upcoming season and it’s great to have a local junior return to the club.”
The Kotara Bears junior is the latest high profile player to join the side, following the additions of Millie Boyle and Tamika Upton, along with the resigning of Romy Teitzel who will captain.
For Southwell it is the realisation of a childhood dream and she is excited to get stuck into training with the girls.
“I cannot wait it’s just a dream come true,” she said.
“Not only am I playing football I’m playing football with a couple of my best mates, it’s just unbelievable that’s all you could ever want as a footballer.”
Taking on a leadership role within the playing group, Southwell recognizes the great strides the women’s game has made at Newcastle since she was a kid.
“The pathways created for female participation in this area presents so many opportunities, I look forward to helping grow the game in the region. I believe we can build something special at the club.”
Southwell has commenced playing for the Knights NSW Women’s Premiership side before preparations for the 2022 NRLW season begins in mid-July.