In preparation for the NSW Cup Grand Final this Sunday, a media event was held at the grand final venue Pirtek Stadium on Tuesday, with Knights’ skipper Clint Newton joining opponent, Wyong Roos’ Mitch Williams as well as coaches Matt Lantry and Rip Taylor.
It’s one of the best possible finale’s to a 15-year career for Newton, who will lead his side into Sunday’s battle before retiring at season’s end.
According to Newton, the team not only emerged triumphant but unscathed from a physically taxing match against minor premiers, the Mounties and have already launched into quality preparation for the highly anticipated decider.
Wrapping up his time in the NRL with 10 first grade appearances in 2015, the workhorse forward resumed his duties with NSW Cup Knights, a side he’s proudly taken a leadership role within with since his return to the Club at the beginning of 2014.
While it’s not the veteran's first grand final berth, he’s incredibly fortunate for the opportunity and is eager to experience Sunday’s massive occasion.
And what’s the captain’s message for his teammates, many of whom are 10 years his junior?
“It’s pretty simple, enjoy it,” he said.
“You don’t get opportunities like this, to play for a premiership all the time.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to be here last year and get another opportunity this year.
“You just don’t know how often they come around.
“The main thing is that we don’t leave any stone unturned and we enjoy it and take some snapshots along the way because it could be one of the ones you remember forever.”
Touted as the competition’s M1 derby match between the Knights and the Central Coast based Club which is aligned to NRL's the Sydney Roosters, it’s clear there’s plenty of history between the teams.
“There’s always that stigma around the local rivalry which is great,” he said.
“I think you’ll expect two incredibly proud and talented football teams going at it.
“They’ve come a long way since their involvement with the Roosters.
“I have tremendous amount of respect for Rip Taylor (coach), who has also been at Newcastle.
“I’m really looking forward to it.”
The enthusiasm and determination of the side’s younger players, many of who hail from the Under 20s Knights and local Newcastle competition, have been a driving force for the 34-year-old.
“To play as many first grade games as I did this year and come back and play with such a great group of young men, it’s certainly inspired me to continue and do my best,” he said.
“I thought last year might be my last year, but then some things fell into place and my body felt good and I wanted to work with this young group again.
“Our guys have been a real shining light and Matt Lantry has been tremendous.
“He’s done a great job and the players, I can’t thank them enough that they’ve put me in a position where I get to extend my career for a game or two.
"To get this opportunity is fantastic but at the moment, that’s all it is, an opportunity. We have to make sure we do all we can to put in a good performance.”
Gates open at Pirtek Stadium at 11.20am with the NSW Cup grand final kicking off at 4.15pm following the Sydney Shield and Ron Massey Cup.
Adult tickets are just $10, with kids under 12 free. CLICK HERE to purchase tickets now.
Sid Fogg's is planning a NSW Cup grand final bus to Pirtek Stadium which will cost $40 return. A minimum of 25 people are required for the trip to go ahead. Call 49281088 to book or for more details.