Junior success shines at Knights

The success and promise of the Newcastle Knights’ junior talent was celebrated at the 2016 Junior Presentation on Monday night at Wests Mayfield.

The Club’s juniors continued last season’s outstanding success with both the Harold Matthews and SG Ball sides progressing to their respective finals with the Harold Matthews this year earning a spot in the 2016 Grand Final.

The most anticipated accolade of the night, the Brian Carlson Club Andrew Johns Medal was awarded to young talent, Pasami Saulo.

Saulo was a standout performer in the Knights’ SG Ball side and captured attention in 2016 through his immense size and speed and impressive ability to break the line. Saulo, who progressed from the Harold Matthews team and is contracted to the Club until at least 2018, was also praised for his excellent training ethic and character.

Saulo also took out the SG Ball Excalibur Club Players’ Player and Player of the Year Award.

This year’s awards night also featured the presentation of the second annual Carlson Club Danny Buderus Encouragement Award to 2016 recipient, Teva Mataora. Mataora played his first year with the Harold Matthews Knights showing extraordinary improvement within the team. Brother to NRL Knights’ forward Sam Mataora, Teva is tipped by coaching staff to develop into a quality outside back for the Club.

In 2016 Anthony Gleeson coached the Knights’ SG Ball side and Mark Morrissey the Harold Matthews with both teams enjoying strong finishes to their seasons.

The Harold Matthews Player of the Year Award was awarded to Jock Madden with SG Ball Player of the Year jointly received by Tom Starling and Pasami Saulo.

It’s the second year hard-working hooker Tom Starling has been recognised at the Knights Junior Awards after receiving the prestigious Brian Carlson Club Andrew Johns Medal in 2015.

Meanwhile Harold Matthews’ Jock Madden, who hails from Scone, was recognised for developing prosperous combinations while playing a tough, old-school brand of football at five-eighth.

Among the awards night special guests were Newcastle Knights head coach Nathan Brown, assistant coaches Danny Buderus and Mick Potter, current joint-captains Trent Hodkinson, Tariq Sims and Jeremy Smith as well as former Newcastle Knight Clint Newton.

Alex McKinnon, the Newcastle Knights’ junior recruitment manager spoke about the value and importance of the Newcastle Knights maintaining its reputation as a strong development Club.

“It’s important to foster junior talent as the Club is lucky enough to have such a great catchment area,” he said.

“For us to be able to utilise that and develop one of the best junior programs in Australia, it’s really important to look after the players and have the juniors going well.

“It’s something we are committed to as a Club.

“The pathway for juniors is pretty clear. We have a lot of Knights junior playing in first grade at the moment.

“The success of the Knights’ junior system highlights how good the Hunter and wider region is, from all the way to Port Macquarie, and Taree to Tamworth and the Central Coast.

“Making sure we utilise that catchment areas is one of our main goals.”

FULL LIST OF AWARD WINNERS:

Brian Carlson Club Andrew Johns Award - Pasami Saulo

Harold Matthews Player of the Year - Jock Madden

SG Ball Player of the Year - Tom Starling and Pasami Saulo

Danny Buderus Encouragement Award - Teva Mataora

Harold Matthews Coaches Award - Phoenix Crossland

SG Ball Coaches Award - Matt Croker

Harold Matthews Excalibur Club Players’ Player Award - Brock Gardner

SG Ball Excalibur Club Players’ Player Award - Pasami Saulo

Harold Matthews Strength and Encouragement Award- Jack Brown

SG Ball Strength and Encouragement Award- Blake Andrews

Harold Matthews Speed and Agility Award - Cameron Davies

SG Ball Speed and Agility Award - Brayden Musgrove