It’s been quite the opening week for the nib Newcastle Knights and their fans.
As if the whirlwind excitement surrounding the restart of the season wasn’t enough, last Sunday’s events proved to be even more of a head spinner for fans watching from their lounge rooms.
First, Lachlan Fitzgibbon is ruled out after twinging a hamstring at the team’s Captains Run on Saturday. 24 hours later, Mitchell Pearce and Connor Watson are sidelined within the opening ten minutes of Sunday’s game against Penrith.
What followed, as described by Andrew Johns, was “one of the most courageous games ever played by Knights team.”
According to winger Hymel Hunt, the outpouring of support from the fans, both during the COVID-19 shutdown and following Sunday’s game, has provided the team with a much-needed boost after an eventful week for the red and blue.
“We have an unreal support base,” Hunt said.
Hymel: Team depth, recovery and fan support
“Whether it’s your neighbour down the road or online on social media, they really make it known to you.
“After the game on Sunday I had 50-100 messages.”
The 27-year-old winger was instrumental in Sunday’s draw, running for 179 metres, a personal high for this season.
His huge effort didn’t go un-noticed by the fans.
“I took my dog out for a wee this morning and a few of the neighbours yelled out saying ‘great bloody game’ and all that,” he laughed.
“Just reading all the nice comments and that, it’s unreal.
“The support base here in Newcastle is unbelievable.”
Despite having to share the points, the positive messages and pride in the team has resulted in high spirits spreading throughout the Newcastle and Hunter region.
With an even bigger challenge awaiting this week in the unbeaten Canberra Raiders, Hunt believes that spirit will drive the Knights towards another important result.
“Now I’m in my second year in Newcastle, you know that if we lose a game it’s a different town,” Hunt said.
“But especially after a game like that on the weekend, you just know everyone’s in high spirits.
“It’s unbelievable scenes, especially if we can start winning a few games in a row.”