A memorable year for the Newcastle Knights' juniors was celebrated in style at the inaugural junior presentation night at Wests in New Lambton on Wednesday evening.
Headed by the all-conquering Harold Matthews side, who won the 16s premiership and National title, the Club's juniors were recognised for a stellar season of success.
Knights SG Ball halfback Jack Cogger received the main award of the night, the prestigious Carlson Club-Andrew Johns Medal as the Club's leading 17-year-old player.
Cogger, who is currently in camp with the Combined Catholic Colleges side in preparation for the Australian Schoolboys Championships in Darwin, told a packed room via video that he was thrilled to accept the highly respect award.
"It's an honour to receive the Andrew Johns Medal," said Cogger, the son of former Wests Magpies No.7 Trevor.
"He is an icon to Newcastle and the rugby league world in general. He is one of my heroes and someone that I look up to very much.
"I'd like to firstly thank the physios, because without them I wouldn't have got back from a shoulder reconstruction before round one, then my coaches Trevor and Todd and my parents."
Cogger, who helped steer the 18s side to the second week of the finals, joins of star-studded list of past winners including Johns, Brett Kimmorley, Anthony Quinn, Kade Snowden, Owen Cragie, Jake Mamo and Sione Mata'utia.
Harold Matthews hooker Tom Starling swept the 16s awards, picking up both the Player of the Year and the Players' Player.
The Kincumber Colts junior received his Player of the Year award from his childhood idol and fellow No.9 Danny Buderus.
In other awards, Old Bar Pirates junior Kurtis Dark took home the Harold Matthews coaches award and SG Ball captain and prop Tyrone Amey won the 18s Player of the Year.
Club football manager Warren Smiles delivered an impressive speech on the night, prompting the juniors to cherish their careers and time spent with their teammates.
"There are three things that are guaranteed in sport," Smiles said.
"Success, failures and friendships.
"The success and failures will come and go, but the friendships remain.
"That’s one thing you’ll get from your time here at the Knights, friendships for life.
"You need to cherish those friendships and make sure you enjoy everything about them.
"Because when the winning is gone, you’ve got to make sure that the strength of the memories that you have will be there in the future from those friendships."
Club legend Danny Buderus echoed Smiles' sentiments; adamant the Knights are in good hands with a vast array of talented juniors coming through the ranks.
“I know this award night has be thinking, ‘well the future of the club is certainly bright," Buderus grins.
"I have no doubt that a lot of these kids will go on and represent our great club.
"Back when I played, the pathway probably wasn't as clear, but a lot of these kids are here now for a reason and hopefully they can make the transition into first grade.
"These kids have been our shining light this year, so congratulations to them all and the coaching staff.
"Premiers and national champs in the Harold Matts and the SG Ball also had a great season. That's something we'll never lose, because we'll always have a great junior nursery up here.
"Better kids make better Knights and that's a bit of a theme that we are driving. The package these guys need to have off the field is nearly as important as on the field and we are very well served with these kids coming through."
Junior Presentation night award winners:
Harold Matthews strength and endurance: Pasami Saulo
SG Ball strength and endurance: Jake McNamara & Jack Cogger
Harold Matthews Speed and Agility: Kynan Blasczak
SG Ball Speed and Agility: Jack Mackin
Harold Matthews coaches award: Kurtis Dark
SG Ball coaches award: Jack Cogger
Excalibur Club Award Players’ Player
Harold Matthews: Tom Starling
SG Ball:Faitotoa Faitotoa
Player of the Year:
Harold Matthews: Tom Starling
SG Ball: Tyrone Amey
Brian Carlson Award and Andrew Johns Medal: Jack Cogger