Popular backrower Sione Mata’utia is set to depart the Knights to begin an English adventure.
The Knights granted Mata’utia an immediate release from his contract with the club, which still had one year left to run.
The 24-year-old is in talks to sign with Super League side St Helens, who are the reigning champions of the northern hemisphere’s premier rugby league competition.
In a statement, the Newcastle Knights stated that Mata’utia was set to sign a three-year deal with the Merseyside-based club, however, the English side refuted claims of such a deal, saying that negotiations were ongoing.
“The club can confirm it has been in discussions with Sione Mata’utia, but this morning’s news of his release from his Newcastle Knights contract was the first official communication we have received from the NRL club,” a St Helens club statement read.
“The club continues to talk to Sione and his agent about a deal ahead of the 2021 season.”
Mata’utia made his debut for the Knights in 2014, amassing 124 appearances and scoring 31 tries over his seven seasons with the club.
He became the youngest ever player to represent the Kangaroos, aged 18 and 129 days, in a 15-12 victory against England in the 2014 Four Nations tournament.
Knights Head Coach Adam O’Brien heaped praise upon Mata’utia’s outstanding commitment and attitude on and off the field.
“Sione shares a wonderful history with the Knights, he’s a local junior who made an NRL and Kangaroos debut in the same year, becoming the youngest player to achieve this milestone,” O’Brien said.
“We are really pleased to see him get an opportunity to extend his career in England and the chance to travel with his family.
“He is a great young man, who leaves the club with the highest regard. Everyone at the Knights wishes him all the best for the future.”