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We said all last week that the Newcastle Knights trial against the First Nations Goannas could provide an opportunity for an emerging player.


Well in Reggie Saunders that vision has become reality, with the 126 kilo prop hailing from Cairns landing a trial with the Knights after impressing the Club with his performance playing for the Goannas last weekend.


Saunders, who was with Tweed Heads and Central Capras in the Intrust Super Cup last season, will play in Saturday's trial against the Roosters in Wyong and possibly the week after versus a combined Raiders/Mounties outfit in Tamworth.


The 23-year-old has previously attended training camps with the Knights as a schoolboy back in 2005, while he also briefly trained with the Club's NSW Cup side at the backend of 2012.


This time around though, Saunders hopes his shot with the Club can lead to something greater and potentially his ultimate goal of playing in the NRL.


"I'm so excited about this chance with the Knights," Saunders says.


"The Goannas game was a great opportunity to represent our people, but we still had to think of the possibility of impressing.


"So it was always in the back of my mind and I also did a lot of my own training leading up to the game.


“I drove down to Newcastle from the Gold Coast on Wednesday and it was a long drive, but all I could think about is playing in this trial on the weekend.


“My manager told me he had been talking to Rick (Stone), who said he was still interested if I wanted to come down and have a few trials and see how it goes.


“So I jumped at it straight away, no hesitation.


“My first goal is to impress in these trials, but the big goal is to get a spot in the NSW Cup and work my way up from there."


Saunders couldn't be happier to be back at the Knights again, crediting his week spent with the Goannas side for helping him get there.


He says he learnt plenty in camp from legends like Wendell Sailor, Scott Prince and course First Nations and NSW Origin coach Laurie Daley.


"The time with the Goannas was definitely one of the best weeks of my life," enthuses the bookend, who is living in Raymond Terrace with family until he finds his feet.


"You know, it was great to be with a good bunch of blokes and coaching staff.


"Just the lead-up to the event was awesome.


"The game itself wasn’t the best result, but it was still a good week and concept.


"We also had blokes in camp like Cliffy Lyons and Ken Nagas and they really helped me."


As a kid growing up in North Queensland, Saunders always aspired to be a professional footballer.


He has had his chances at the Knights and also with the Titans in the SG Ball and NYC ranks, but hasn't taken that next step.


Saunders has never given up on his dream though and reveals how his wheelchair-bound cousin has been his inspiration to keep chasing.


You see, Reggie's relative Jeremias Blackman is in a wheelchair as a result of a car accident back in 2010.


Blackman was also an aspiring footballer, but had that dream tragically taken away from him.


Saunders lived with his cousin on the Gold Coast as his full-time carer, a role which always kept life in perspective for the big bookend.


"He is the same age as me," Saunders explains.


"I lived with him and helped him out with his physio.


"He can’t play footy anymore and he was a good player back in the day.


"Every time I would complain about training or being sore, I would think twice because I know what he goes through.


"He was an inspiration for me to keep going.


"I've moved to Newcastle now, but his parents just moved down to the Gold Coast from Cairns and they can look after him now.


"So he is in good hands."


Knights NSW Cup coach Rick Stone can't speak highly enough of Saunders, a player he reluctantly let go back in 2012 to chase an opportunity with the Central Capras in Queensland's Intrust Super Cup.


Stone says he bumped into Reggie at a NSW Cup induction a few weeks ago, where the forward expressed an interest about returning to Newcastle.


Saunders then impressed in the Goannas trial last weekend and by Monday his manager was on the phone to the Knights and a trial was locked in.


"So it all fell into place really quickly," Stone says.


"We played Saturday and I spoke to his manager on Monday and he was down here by Wednesday and drove down all day.


"Now it’s about playing a few games, but he has committed to staying around Newcastle.


"He might have to start out in the lower grade comp for us out at Lakes United, but from there he’ll get into our team eventually.


"He has got a little bit of work to do on the defensive side of the game, but he is big, strong, fit and cam carry the ball as anyone.


"Those types of front-rowers who can really dent a set line back are hard to find."


Stone also confirms the Club are looking into the possibility of finding Saunders a job as an Indigenous mentor.


"We're looking for Reggie to be a bit of an Aboriginal mentor where he can look after a few kids, not just in the Club but also the community," he says.


"The people that took his induction the other day were impressed by him."


It seems, so are the Newcastle Knights.


With his new Club polo proudly in hand at Knights HQ earlier this week, Saunders posed for photos like he'd just won the lotto.


Given his rise from the Queensland Cup, you can hardly blame the bloke for being excited.


“Yeah I’ve done a few photo shoots here before,” Saunders grins, referring to his previous chances at the Club.


Only difference, Saunders hopes this opportunity at the Knights lasts longer and he finally fulfils his lifelong goal of playing in the NRL.


The Knights NSW Cup and NYC teams will play trial matches against the Roosters on Saturday, February 15.


Newcastle Knights v Sydney Roosters

Date: Saturday February 15

NYC kick off: 4.45pm

NSW Cup kick off: 6.30pm

Venue: Morrie Breen, Wyong

Entry is free


For full details and game previews from NSW Cup coach Rick Stone and NYC coach Mick Crawley, Click here.