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NRL: A Sharpe decision by the Knights

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Before a ball has been kicked in anger, the Newcastle Knights have locked in one of their most promising juniors long-term.

With the start of the club’s 2024 campaign less than a week away, the Hunter organisation this week extended the NRL playing contract of local young gun Fletcher Sharpe.

The 19-year-old Cessnock Goannas product was upgraded to a full-time development contract.

While the teen already boasted a deal with Newcastle until 2025, the latest announcement will keep him in Knights’ colours until at least the end of 2026, along with an immediate promotion into the side’s top 30.

Director of football Peter Parr said Sharpe had a bright future ahead.

“We believe Fletcher has all the makings of an NRL player,” he explained.

“So, we’re delighted he’s committed to an extension of his contract.

“Fletcher is a home-grown player who has progressed through our pathways systems… and we are excited for the next phase of his career.”

It’s a similar story for Fijian flyer Laitia Moceidreke.

The 23-year-old joined Newcastle mid-2023, standing at an imposing 197cm.

With the benefit of his first full Knights NRL off-season and pre-season trials, Parr believes he’s earned this opportunity. 

“Laitia has been outstanding,” he said.

“His elevation to a development list contract is just rewards for his efforts.

“On top of that, it provides valuable depth to the wing position in our playing roster.”

Newcastle wrapped up its preparations with an historic trial against the Melbourne Storm in Lautoka, Fiji, at the weekend.

Although Craig Bellamy’s men prevailed 28-10, after leading 18-10 at the break, there were some positive signs for Adam O’Brien’s Knights, especially the form of Dally M winner Kalyn Ponga and Bradman Best, who recently put pen to paper to stay with the club.

Following a superb finish to 2023, which eventually ended in a play-off loss to the Warriors, hopes are high within the Newcastle ranks to exceed that effort.

The Knights tackle the Canberra Raiders in an all-important round one fixture at McDonald Jones Stadium on Thursday 7 March, with a massive home crowd anticipated.

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