The Newcastle Knights thank the Tamworth community for its warm welcome and support when the Club was in town to play a trial match against the Canberra Raiders.
The Knights enjoyed bringing the game to the country and the chance it gave for the players to get out and about in the community and meet the regional fans who support the game.
The Knights maintained a busy schedule visiting 10 schools on Friday to spread the NRL’s Tackle Bullying message.
Players then spent time developing the grassroots of football by attending a junior registration day in Tamworth when they met and signed autographs for budding league stars at the Plain Street Playing Fields.
The team capped off its community visits with a signing session in a Tamworth shopping centre where players were able to meet and chat to Tamworth’s locals.
For Captain Kurt Gidley, the whole weekend was resoundingly positive.
He enjoyed the opportunity to give back to the game’s regional supporters and was thrilled to take the field for the first time after months of injury rehabilitation.
“It’s good to be back in Tamworth, we’ve got good support up here,” Gidley said.
He said a highlight for the players was visiting so many children at schools to roll out the Tackle Bullying program.
“We got out to plenty of schools and the kids enjoyed it," he added.
“We tried to get the message across to all the schools about how important it is."
Beau Scott echoed Gidley’s praise of the program that aims to empower students to stand up for themselves and others who are being bullied.
“It’s a great program that the NRL has developed this year,” he said.
"The kids really get involved and get behind it; it’s a good initiative.”
Scott played country football growing up so appreciated the experience of playing the trial match in front of almost 3000 people at Tamworth’s Scully Park.
“It really shows how needed it is in the country," he said.
"Everyone loves it and it’s a family thing for people on the weekend to do."
He was blown away by the large turnouts in Tamworth to meet the players and was pleased to give back to the area.
“I really enjoy coming back here, and we do have a lot of support.”
Young Knight Alex McKinnon also acknowledged the important role country areas play for rugby league in both developing rugby league stars and being the home of dedicated and passionate supporters.
“The bush plays a major part in rugby league," McKinnon said.
“Without it, you wouldn’t have a lot of the NRL stars we have today."