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Thousands of students will pull on their boots and take the field on Thursday for the 2016 annual Newcastle Knights Knockout.

The competition, which has been running since the inception of the Club in 1988, will kick off its primary divisions on Thursday at a number of venues in the Hunter including Lambton, Waratah, Windale, Glendale and Valentine.

The round robin style tournament provides an exciting opportunity for students to gain a taste of playing rugby league in a safe and controlled environment.

“It brings lots of different people in to participate from kids who regularly play on the weekend to those who may be trying the game for the first time,” Matt Lantry, Community Rugby League Manager and Newcastle Knights reserve grade coach said.

“It’s great schools support it as it provides an opportunity for kids of all walks of life, both boys and girls to play."

Participation for players and schools is free of charge with the Newcastle Knights absorbing all the costs associated with the tournament like ground hire fees, referees and trophies.

"It’s a good opportunity to expose our game, and hopefully parents can see rugby league played in a safe controlled and fun environment," he said. 

The team to finish highest on the ladder within their pool on Thursday will progress to the quarter finals and semi-finals.

The two schools that win their semi finals will go through to play at the grand final match at Hunter Stadium in July.

The winner from that match will represent Newcastle and the Hunter Region at the State carnival.