You could be forgiven if you forgot that Brett Kimmorley once donned the red and blue jersey for the nib Newcastle Knights.
The New South Wales and Australian representative debuted for the Knights in 1995, playing six games in total for the Club.
There was no doubting his talent, which led to significant interest in the young halfback when the Super League War broke out in ‘95.
“I think I had a two or three-year deal which was worth minimal money to have the opportunity to play for Newcastle,” Kimmorley told the Our Town Our Team podcast.
“I was sort of a reserve grade player, I wasn’t in the full time system.
“I basically listened to what the ARL had to present in a way and literally drove down to Sydney with Tim Maddison who was our front rower and had a meeting with Super League.”
The obvious monopoly Andrew and Matthew Johns had over the halves positions at the Knights saw Kimmorley turn to Super League for an opportunity.
“Basically, Andrew and Matthew had already signed with the Knights and Super League said there would be a Newcastle franchise created,” he said.
“I thought if they were in Newcastle I’d sign for the Mariners and that gives me a great opportunity to never leave Newcastle.”
Unlike many others who signed with rebel competition, Kimmorley signed a contract exclusively to the Hunter Mariners franchise, rather than with News Limited or Super League itself.
This saw Kimmorley put in an interesting spot when Super League was put on hold by the courts in 1996.
“I was still contracted to the Knights in 96, and the fact that I’d signed a Super League contract to only play for the Mariners, and there was no Mariners, I had to play my third year of grade football there at Newcastle,” Kimmorley said.
“At the end of 96 I didn’t know what was going to happen, because there was still no split competition.
“My brother and I on those occasions went down to Canterbury and had a medical and a chat, then flew to the Cowboys as well to have a look around the system up there.”
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Super League and the Mariners did eventually come to fruition in the 1997 season, allowing for Kimmorley to get his opportunity as a first-choice halfback after years stuck behind the Johns brothers.
“All I was looking for was an opportunity, Andrew and Matthew were representative players and Australian players, and were in a very firm position in Newcastle, and I was just looking for an opportunity to play anywhere,” he said.
Following the reunion of the split competition, Kimmorley found himself in Melbourne he regularly came up against Johns at club level, competing with him for Origin and Test positions.
“I enjoyed playing against Andrew, definitely when I went to Melbourne in ’98, it was a great opportunity to test myself against Andrew, one of the best halfbacks in the game,” Kimmorley said.
“We had great challenges and a healthy rivalry in a way.
“We played together tin the 2000 rep games, and I was lucky enough to play seven and Andrew played nine.”
While he never returned to the Knights, Kimmorley admits he always relished the opportunity to play against them in Newcastle.
“You get to go back home and play in front of your family and friends and all that, which was the best part about playing in Newcastle against Newcastle.”