NRLW: Dean Widders resigns as Parramatta coach

Parramatta’s 2022 NRLW grand final coach Dean Widders has resigned from the role after three years in charge of the Eels.

Widders has coached the club for all three of their seasons in the NRLW but informed officials that he was stepping down due to the increased challenges of balancing the growing demands of the extended women’s competition with his role in wellbeing and education with the NRL.

It’s been a rollercoaster stint for the former NRL star who helped the Eels win two games in their inaugural season before they shocked the world to qualify for the 2022 decider after a stunning upset of the previously unbeaten Roosters in the semis.

But the introduction of four new teams destroyed what they were building out west, with a number of high-profile stars like Simaima Taufa and Gayle Broughton jumping ship ahead of the expanded 10-team competition.

Parramatta finished the year with the wooden spoon having won just one game, while they also conceded the most points and scored the fewest.

“It’s been an incredible honour to coach the inaugural Parramatta Eels women’s team,” Widders said.

“When we entered the competition a couple of years ago there were six teams and now there are 10 with talks of further expansion, which is a testament to the strength, talent and increasing popularity of the NRLW.

“I am immensely proud of this team, the resilience of our players and the impact they are already having on female athletes, especially in western Sydney.

“As a former player for the Eels, this club has a special place in my heart and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity and the support and friendship everyone at the club has given me.”

The Eels are in the middle of an extensive review into what went wrong this season and will begin scouting for a new coach as they look to bounce back in 2024.

“Dean has a long history with our club, first as a player and as the head coach of our inaugural women’s team, which he led to a grand final in just their second season in the competition,” Eels general manager of football Mark O’Neill said.

“We appreciate his commitment and dedication to our NRLW program and the values he instilled in our playing group over three seasons.

“He has been a great asset to our club and continues to be a wonderful ambassador for rugby league.”

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