The Newcastle Rugby League community has hailed the choice of Garth Brennan as the new Knights’ head of pathways.
A born and bred Novocastrian, he’ll begin work at the Hunter-based organisation in time for the start of the 2022 pre-season with an unmatched skillset and knowledge of the system he will oversee.
Over the years, the Knights have been heavily criticised for bypassing its huge talent pool in the region, despite recent signings such as Brodie Jones and Brayden Musgrove, in favour of out-of-town personnel.
But, that could all change, according to Maitland Pickers president Frank Lawler.
“It’s a great appointment by Newcastle,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.
“Garth will give the young local footballers every opportunity to play for the Knights.
“I think it’s awesome to have a Newcastle born and bred mentor, who has coached in the club’s pathways [system] before.
“As well as the experience he’s gained at Penrith and the Gold Coast.
“One thing about Garth, in the next 12 to 18 months, he’ll know every junior running around Newcastle.”
A former NRL head coach, Brennan spent 12 seasons in the Knights’ development system, holding coaching roles in the Harold Matthews, Jersey Flegg, NYC and NSW Cup teams from 2003-2015.
The appointment will allow the 49-year-old to oversee all elite pathways, from the grassroots all the way up to both the NRL and NRLW sides.
Knights CEO Philip Gardner said Brennan’s return marked a crucial milestone in the development of first-class routes for junior talent across Newcastle’s expansive catchment area.
“Garth has a proven record in the junior development space, having played a key role in the careers of some of the best players in our game,” he stated.
“He will be a tremendous asset for the club moving forward and we can’t wait to have him join the team.”
A former Knights junior himself, Brennan was a well-respected fullback for Wests (Rosellas) in the Real NRL before entering into coaching.
Post his playing days, he has spent his career developing and nurturing some of the code’s best talent across the Hunter, Sydney and South-East Queensland.
Ahead of his imminent return to the Knights, Brennan said he was looking forward to again working with one of the most dynamic junior systems in the country.
“I can’t wait to get involved and I’m really keen for the challenge this role presents,” he explained.
“The club at the moment is filled with quality people, including Adam O’Brien, Danny Buderus, Alex McKinnon and head of performance Hayden Knowles.
“The chance to work alongside them, as well as the Wests Group, is one I just couldn’t refuse.
“For my entire career I’ve been really passionate about strengthening junior development and pathways programs, which has been some of the most enjoyable and rewarding work of my life so far.
“Newcastle is my home.
“And, I want every young player in the region to see a direct opportunity and pathway to play for their hometown club.
“I firmly believe in building from within and that representing your hometown in front of friends and family is incredibly meaningful for these local juniors.
“My proudest achievement in coaching has been making a difference in the lives of these youngsters, so when this opportunity came up, I just couldn’t say no.”
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