The Newcastle Knights prides itself as a Club that fosters junior talent and the success and strength of its junior program shone at a gala awards ceremony that celebrated its dynamic up-and-coming stars.
It was a phenomenal night for SG Ball Knight Tom Starling who took out the major award, the Brian Carlson Andrew Johns Medal as well the Player of the Year Award for the Under 18s.
The young dummy half joined the likes of Andrew Johns, Brett Kimmorley, Kade Snowden, Jarrod Mullen and Sione Mata’utia as previous recipients of the highly respected accolade.
It’s the consecutive year the hooker has swept the awards after he picked up both the Player of the Year and the Players' Player in 2014 when a member of the Harold Matthews Knights.
Starling is known for displaying creativity from dummy half with his dynamic runs while his bravery in defence and excellent technique consistently challenges his opposition.
Described by his coaching staff as a pleasure to coach and well respected by his teammates, a big future within the game is expected for Starling.
“I’m very surprised at the moment but very honoured to achieve these award,” Starling said.
“I wasn’t expecting to get any of these, I couldn't be happier at the moment.
“It’s been a great year for us boys and it’s great to finish it off with a great night like this.
“I have made some friendships I’ll have for the rest of my life, so it’s good to catch up with everyone again."
Humbled by the recognition, he had plenty to thank after a successful season in SG Ball coached by Trevor Ott and Todd Edwards.
“I want to thank my mum and dad especially. They have done everything for me,” he said.
“The coaching staff at the Newcastle Knights and everyone that has helped out with the junior reps.”
The 2015 ceremony saw the introduction of a new accolade, the Danny Buderus Encouragement Award, presented by its namesake Danny Buderus.
The worthy recipient Mathew Smith consistently challenged himself at each training session in all areas of skill, speed and gym to earn a position in the team when the opportunity arose.
“Matty is a really good young kid, he’s come through our HPU (High Performance Unit) and he has a big bright future," Buderus said.
“I’m looking forward to watching his career unfold.”
As a Knights junior himself, the Australian Test player praised the Club’s commitment to creating a breeding ground for emerging talent.
“There’s a lot of hard work that goes into the juniors. The boys have always had successful years and we keep producing successful players,” he said.
“That’s not going to stop. It’s highly valued at our Club, developing these young kids.
“We just want to see them go on and become future Knights players.”
Smith was humbled by the award.
“I’ve always dreamed to play for the Knights and now it’s happened it’s so great," Smith said after receiving the inaugural award from the Club legend.
It wasn’t so long ago that Chad Redman’s name was a feature in the list of award recipients at the Newcastle Knights Junior Presentation.
On Wednesday night the newly debuted NRL Knight was a special guest on stage to present the juniors’ trophies.
“It’s the first time I’ve gotten to do anything like this,” Redman said.
“It’s pretty special. I remember the blokes that used to come and do it for me.
“It’s a real honour to get up there now as someone who has played NRL to present some of these young blokes with an award.
“Nights like these mean everything to them and it gives them something to aspire to.”