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Boyhood dreams into reality: Meet our three new NRL debutants

Every young rugby league player dreams of one day making their NRL debut, and on Friday night, three new players will make that memorable run out for the very first time.

Dylan Lucas (Knight #340), Ryan Rivett (Knight #341) and Tom Cant (Knight #342) are the latest inductees into the nib Newcastle Knights NRL honour roll having been called upon by Head Coach, Adam O'Brien.

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Heading into their debut game, we sat down with the boys to get to know them a little better and learn about their journeys to Friday night's match against the Dolphins.


Having arrived on Newcastle's shores in 2019, 22-year-old Dylan Lucas is set for his first chance in the top grade after impressing in the lower grades.

A powerful centre with speed to burn, Lucas hasn't had it all his own way since moving to the Club.

Two knee reconstructions and a ruptured pectoral muscle in 2022 were major setbacks in the outside back's early days in the game.

“It’s been a bit of a journey for me to get here. I’m here now, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to play in the NRL,” Lucas said.

“It goes to show that at the end of the day hard work and sacrifices will pay you back. I had a tough run, but I wouldn’t change anything.

“Obviously a dream to do it as a kid, and it’s very special to me and my family. I can’t wait for Friday night."

Lucas grew up in Wollongong and played his junior footy for the Albion Park Eagles.

The 22-year-old played his junior reps for the Illawarra Steelers before moving to the Knights in 2019.

After beginning in the Jersey Flegg Cup team, 'Dyl' moved into the NSW Cup squad where he would become a mainstay in the centres, which included a game in 2021 where he scored four tries against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

A strong trainer, Lucas was rewarded with an upgrade to the Top 30 for the start of the 2023 season.

He says he's now found a home in Newcastle.

"It feels like home for me here now, and I can't wait to play alongside some of my great mates," Lucas said.

“I couldn’t think of a better debut in our first home game of the year with the boys coming off a good win.

“It’s going to be special, especially in front of what I consider the best supporters in the NRL.

“Running out in front of that crowd, I’ve been there when the boys have done it. To do it myself is going to be pretty cool and just to see my family there, as I know they are all very proud."


Meet Ryan Rivett, a kid who just loves his footy.

The natural halfback joined the Newcastle Knights for the start of the 2023 pre-season and has impressed from the word go.

At only 20 years of age, Rivett can't wait for his first taste in the NRL.

“The pre-season was great and the trials were really good. I just love playing footy so whenever I get the chance to put on the jersey, especially an NRL jersey, is just a dream come true," Rivett said.

“It all happened really quick. Adam rang me on Monday and let me know that I could be in and to prepare for the game.

“Then he called me into his office on Tuesday and let me know I was going to be playing, it was pretty surreal.

“It still hasn’t sunk in as much as it will do on Friday night.”

Born in Gosford, Rivett moved to Queensland when he was around four years of age to live on the Gold Coast.

The youngster played his junior footy with the Burleigh Bears before packing his bags after high school to chase an NRL dream.

Rivett moved back over the border and down south to join the Cronulla Sharks in 2020 where he spent the last three seasons in the SG Ball, Jersey Flegg and NSW Cup competitions.

A proud Wiradjuri man, Ryan jumped at the chance to join the Knights having grown up idolising former and current Knights players.

“I knew what this Club was about and all its history," Rivett said.

"Obviously Joey played here and he was someone I looked up to. Learning off KP and Jackson Hastings has been really good too, they’ve given me a lot of tips.

"Everything about the Club made me excited to come and thought it was the best move for my career.

“There is nothing better than working hard with your mates for a common goal.

“It’ll probably hit me when I get in the sheds and see my debut jersey with the embroidery. I’m getting goosebumps now thinking about it."


Local product, Tom Cant epitomises hard work and earning everything you get.

The dynamic second-row forward from East Maitland has been apart of the Knights system from the age of 13, progressing through the grades for his first opportunity in the top grade.

Having grown up wanting to the wear the red and blue jumper, Cant is set to fulfil a boyhood dream on Friday night.

“Most of these boys, I’ve been watching on TV for the last eight years or sitting in the grandstand watching them run out,” Cant said.

“I always thought I would love to do that one day, now that it is actually going to happen. It’s going to be crazy.

“Running out for your hometown, where you live, where your family and friends are and all going to be there (on the night), it's going to be unreal.

“I've always wanted to be a Knight."

Having first pulled on the boots at the age of five, the now 20-year-old played his junior footy for the East Maitland Griffins.

The young forward also played in the local Newcastle Rugby League competition for the Maitland Pickers, making his first grade debut as a teenager.

Members and supporters may recognise Tom from the successful Jersey Flegg Cup team that had a memorable 2022 campaign, finishing second and almost taking home the Grand Final.

Cant captained the side that was heartbreakingly defeated in extra-time by the Penrith Panthers.

The 20-year-old was called up for his first pre-season with the NRL side soon after, taking in every opportunity presented to him.

“We had a great side last year with a lot of those boys still here," Cant said.

“Unfortunately got beat in the Grand Final, but it’s been a massive 12 months.

“If you had told me last year whether I would be making my NRL debut, I would have said no chance.

“The Grand Final was last weekend of September and then I was in here November 1 starting pre-season.

“Adam gave me an opportunity to come away on the pre-season camp, and got to play in the two NRL trials.

Cant also said he couldn't thank enough the support from his family.

“My Mum and Dad have been massive for me, and took myself all around the country playing footy," Cant continued

“I can’t thank them enough for all the support and obviously my coach, Adam, for the opportunities he’s given me and playing me in the trials and given me my first jersey."