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Knights stalwart Fitzgibbon deserves to leave a winner

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He’s endured all the highs and lows over the past decade.

However, departing stalwart Lachlan Fitzgibbon deserves to leave a winner when the Newcastle Knights begin its NRL Telstra Premiership 2023 Finals Series this weekend.

The local product, and nephew of former Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon, will part ways with the club at the end of the season after signing a three-year contract with the Warrington Wolves in the UK Super League.

Newcastle Knights second-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon takes on the Melbourne Storm. Photo: NRL Imagery

But, in the meantime, the second-rower’s focused on finishing off the Canberra Raiders’ campaign when the two sides meet in the eliminator at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday 10 September.

Newcastle heads into the clash with stunning momentum, having last lost a game in June.

“That won’t count for anything if we don’t deliver this weekend,” Fitzgibbon said.

“Over the past nine weeks, we haven’t deviated from the plan.

“In fact, we’ve been training just as hard as we were at the start of the season.

“We have done the exact same things… and everyone’s bought into what we need to do to win, not only the finals but the big dance.

“It’s a whole new competition, which begins on Sunday.

“However, we’re all looking forward to it, especially playing at home in front of 30,000 people.

“We’ve trained strongly all week and I think the boys will be cherry ripe for Canberra.

“I know I’m feeling fresh after a couple of matches off, due to a shoulder injury.

“So, for me, even though I wanted to play, it’s probably been a blessing in disguise.”

The Newcastle Knights are aiming for their 10th consecutive victory this weekend. Photo: NRL Imagery

It’s a far cry from when Fitzgibbon, a South Newcastle Lions junior, began his illustrious career with the Knights.

He made his NRL debut in round 21, in 2015, against the St George Illawarra Dragons.

Sadly, the team finished last on the table.

But, since then, he’s donned the red and blue jersey on more than 100 occasions and become a fan favourite, often raising the profile of the club throughout the Hunter community.

“I’m a proud Novocastrian, always will be,” Fitzgibbon said.

“For me, it’s super special finishing this year on a high… and the vibes we’ve created here.

“I guess, from a personal perspective, it’s more meaningful looking back from the start, when we collected three wooden spoons to now and securing our first home final since 2006.

“What a way for me to go out.

“Hopefully, it’ll will continue after this weekend… up until the big one.”

Fitzgibbon is quick to point out it hasn’t been all doom and gloom either.

He played in Newcastle’s 2020 and 2021 finals series, too.

I’m a proud Novocastrian, always will be.

Lachlan Fitzgibbon

“That was certainly a different time,” he said.

“In 2020, we had that long break due to COVID-19.

“While we were tracking well, I’m certain we played South Sydney in front of a 50% capacity stadium in Sydney.

“We led comfortably (possibly 18-0) early on but, just before half-time, we had a couple of micro sleeps and the Rabbitohs scored a couple of late tries.

“They then ended up beating us 46-20 in the end.

“In 2021, we were in the pandemic bubble again.

“This time, we travelled to Rockhampton and faced a good Parramatta side, which almost knocked out Penrith (the following week).

“The Eels got us 28-20, however it was a tough one.

“So, we’ve had some really tight finals games.

“But, we’re a lot better team [now] and better managed.

“I honestly think we’re more well-balanced, too, than we were a few years ago.

“So, we are all looking forward to taking the next step on Sunday.”

Newcastle Knights v Canberra Raiders

Sunday 10 September (4.05pm) at McDonald Jones Stadium

  • Newcastle Knights: Kalyn Ponga, Dominic Young, Dane Gagai, Bradman Best, Greg Marzhew, Tyson Gamble, Jackson Hastings, Jacob Saifiti, Phoenix Crossland, Leo Thompson, Tyson Frizell, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Adam Elliott; Kurt Mann, Daniel Saifiti, Jack Hetherington, Mat Croker, Adam Clune, Lachlan Miller, Dylan Lucas, Enari Tuala, Brodie Jones
  • Canberra Raiders: Jordan Rapana, James Schiller, Jack Wighton, Matthew Timoko, Nick Cotric, Matt Frawley, Jamal Fogarty, Ata Mariota, Zac Woolford, Joseph Tapine, Hudson Young, Elliott Whitehead, Hohepa Puru; Tom Starling, Emre Guler, Pasami Saulo, Trey Mooney, Jarrod Croker, Albert Hopoate, Danny Levi, Ethan Strange, Xavier Savage

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