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Fitzy: Playing No.6, gun junior side and Sione the star

Picture Lachlan Fitzgibbon wearing the No.6 for the Newcastle Knights.

Strange isn’t it?

But before he was a barnstorming backrower, the local product was a little five-eighth in a gun junior side.

“From under 10s to 15s I actually played in the halves,” he told the Our Town Our Team podcast.

“I was a littler kid. I was a late bloomer as some people call it. I didn’t really grow until 16. I played in the halves and got pushed out to lock because there were better ball playing halves.”

A Souths Newcastle junior, Fitzgibbon played in a red-hot side that featured a future Knights teammate.



“Right through from 10s to under 17s, we had a pretty solid side,” Fitzgibbon said.

“We won every grand final bar one in under 13s.

“We had a pretty strong side with boys who played junior Knights and junior reps.

“I remember clearly in under 17s, we had Sione Mata’utia and (Brisbane forward) Tevita Pangai, were two juniors coming through. They were only 15 and they were just destroying their comp.

“They jumped, not one year but two, they jumped 15s to 17s and played with us.

“We had this star-studded side as it was and then we got another two quality players.

“Under 17s grand final we won something like 40-6.”

At NRL level, Mata’utai has played everywhere.

He began his first-grade career at 18 as a winger before playing fullback, centre and later backrow.

At a junior level, Pangai junior was a backrow running riot and Mata’utia was a gun back.

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“I think Sione was playing in the centres,” Fitzgibbon continued.

“They were always the two standouts in the Newcastle comp.”

Fitzgibbon joined the Knights representative system in SG Ball.

It was there he met Mitch Barnett, a lanky centre from winger.

“He was kind of tall and skinny,” Fitzgibbon said.

Warrington fullback Jake Mamo was also in the side.

“He was a big strong, centre, winger, fullback. He was always big and athlete. He dominated the comp that year,” he continued.

After a solid season he was invited to trial for the 20s side… although it took time to get the call to trial.

Nothing more promised than an opportunity.

“I was never the superstar,” he said.

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“I came on a bit later. At the end of the SG Ball season I had surgery. That rubbed me out for a couple of months. I just finished school at the end of that season.

“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I enrolled into university and focused on that until that under 20s invitation was announced. I was probably 50-50 of making that squad.  

“I trialled for the under 20s that year and got another opportunity.”

In his first season of Jersey Flegg he chopped and changed between local football for Souths and half the year in 20s.

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His next year was a breakout in that competition.

They had a gun side which included Mata’utia

“We only dropped two or three games all year. We finished minor premiers,” he said.

Listen to Lachlan’s story in the podcast above!