The nib Newcastle Knights are pleased to announce a player pathway partnership with the Ipswich Jets.
While the Knights have one of the richest nurseries in the game and a comprehensive pathways program, this partnership enables the Knights to have a two-pronged talent and development system involving both males and females.
As part of the initiative, talented Queensland players will join the Jets before they are ready to relocate and join the Knights’ system.
Knights CEO Mr Philip Gardner said the Knights are excited about the partnership and what it will do for the development of talent.
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“The Knights see this as an opportunity to help the development of young players in Queensland, while not taking away from the hard work that the Club is doing in the Hunter region or take away the chance for one of our locals to make it into the NRL,” Mr Gardner said.
“Both the Knights and the Jets appreciate the importance that young players be encouraged to remain in the game, developed and reach their potential without having to leave home.
“Remaining in their family environment is important and the Ipswich players will now have that opportunity to remain home but have a pathway to the NRL through the Knights.
“Our Club has a strong fan base in Queensland and will now be able to have a direct connection with the supporters through the Jets.”
The Knights and Jets will work together to develop welfare, education and vocational programs, as well as working on shared commercial opportunities to better fund the game.
By 2026, Ipswich and the surrounding areas, forecast to be home to over 19,000 players, the Jets felt that it was essential for the betterment of the game that they find a player pathway partner where an Ipswich player could go from juniors to the NRL without him having to leave home until finishing school.
Club chairman Steven Johnson said; “A union of two of the game’s heartlands made very good sense as Newcastle is really Ipswich by the sea.
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“The partnership will be a boom for Ipswich, given the shared values of the two clubs about the importance of the person, not just the player, both being regional blue collar areas where kids don’t get lost in a big city, and neither being focused on winning age competitions but creating an environment for players to be better.
“The partnership creates a direct pathway for Queensland based players to join the Knights NRL system.
As the Knights and Jets are nuclear pathways Clubs, State Cup players will remain in their respective competitions.