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A Night of Knights shines for Sleapy’s, Souths


It’s only the start of March but Sleapy’s Foundation is already geared up for a massive 2024.

While the Newcastle charity was one of the beneficiaries from A Night of Knights at Souths Merewether last week, it’ll also be front and centre at McDonald Jones Stadium on Thursday 7 March when the Newcastle Knights tackle the Canberra Raiders in the season opener.

It continues a burgeoning partnership between the not-for-profit organisation and the Hunter-based NRL club.

“The support’s been absolutely brilliant,” co-founder Peter Sleap said.

“Just the other evening we had comedian Steve Philp providing the laughs and Fox Sports’ Jim Callinan interviewing (Knight director of football) Peter Parr and star players Kalyn Ponga and Adam Elliott.

Jim Callinan interviews Kalyn Ponga, Peter Parr and Adam Elliott at A Night of Knights.

“It was a roaring success.

“All the boys interviewed really well and gave some great insight into the Newcastle fold.

“Pete’s always terrific value, as is Kalyn, but Adam surprised me.

“He was fantastic… I loved the segment featuring him and his wife (Millie, nee Boyle) and performing to Blink 182.

“That took guts,” he added with a laugh.

“But, we were able to raise money for Sleapy’s Foundation and the South Newcastle Lions.

“We couldn’t be more appreciative of everyone who attended.

“It’s always good to get feedback from the players, too… I thought that was terrific.”

As a Knights’ charity partner this year, Sleapy’s Foundation will also be the recipient of the club’s 50/50 initiative for round one.

Half of the money raised on Thursday will go to the organisation, with the winner pocketing the other 50%.

“That’s huge for the foundation,” Sleap told the Newcastle Weekly.

“Probably not so much the money – that’s always great.

“However, it’s about the exposure because we’re a little niche charity.

“So, to be in front of 20,000 supporters and get our name out there around the community means a lot.

“We’ll have 36 volunteers at the ground, helping sell raffle tickets.

“They’ll be given iPads and go around the crowd.

“The more we raise, the better… everyone wins.”

The boys provided plenty of laughs on Friday night.

Sleap is equally keen to see the Knights back in action, especially following the side’s incredible dash to the play-offs in 2023.

“They’ve got to start the season well,” he said.

“And, playing in front of a home crowd first-up, they need to put the extra effort in.

“I think they’re good things on Thursday night.

“But, the boys must build on what they achieved last year… they certainly finished on a high.

“They acquitted themselves unbelievably (in 2023) and, you know, it was exciting for the town.

“When you go on a run like they did, it lifts everyone.

“You only had to look at that Canberra semi-final to see how many supporters were on board; McDonald Jones was packed to the rafters.

“When the Knights are travelling well, the town’s going good.

“It’s alive.

“And, best of all, their success flows locally as well.

“If the Knights are going well, it filters through to Newcastle Rugby League, too.

“Everyone gets excited about footy again.”

Attention will then turn to the inaugural Sleapy’s Foundation Gala Ball at the Newcastle Exhibition and Convention Centre (NEX) on Saturday 6 April.

Tickets are $190 for adults and $1,800 for a table of 10, with catering and beverage packages included.

“We’re really looking forward to it, it’s our first one and coming together nicely,” he said.

“People can secure their tickets via

“Be warned, we have limited seating.

“With the recent Night of Knights and the 50/50 with the Knights, it’s a good lead into the ball.

“It’s going to be a very, very exciting year.”

Meanwhile, the Knights have named their squad for the clash, which starts at 8pm.

Co-captain Jayden Brailey is laid up with a hamstring issue, so Phoenix Crossland starts at hooker after doing so successfully through the back part of 2023. Dylan Lucas starts in the back-row, with new recruits Kai Pearce-Paul named on the bench and Jack Cogger on the interchange.

  • Newcastle Knights: Kalyn Ponga, Enari Tuala, Dane Gagai, Bradman Best, Greg Marzhew, Tyson Gamble, Jackson Hastings, Jacob Saifiti, Phoenix Crossland, Leo Thompson, Tyson Frizell, Dylan Lucas, Adam Elliott; Interchange: Jack Cogger, Daniel Saifiti, Jack Hetherington, Kai Pearce-Paul; Reserves: Jed Cartwright, Thomas Jenkins, Will Pryce, Brodie Jones, Thomas Cant
  • The Newcastle Weekly is a media partner of Sleapy’s Foundation

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