Departing Newcastle halfback Jack Cogger claims his decision to sign with Canterbury from 2019 was based solely on his desire to play regularly in the top grade and says he has no issue with the Knights not releasing him early.
In his first interview since signing a two year deal with the Bulldogs, Cogger says he is wants to play a role in a Knights revival this season and use his time under Mitchell Pearce to “pick his brain and learn as much as possible”.
“It will make me a better player for having that opportunity,”Cogger said.
“He’s played at the highest level and he’s played in some really big games but he is a really good bloke on and off the field and really encouraging to the younger blokes. I’m sure he can help me a lot.”
The 20-year-old Toukley Hawks junior, whose father Trevor played 160 top grade games for the Western Suburbs Magpies, admitted his focus has always been on becoming the Knights long-term halfback since he joined the club five years ago.
He debuted in the NRL under coach Nathan Brown in 2016 against Cronulla at 18 and has made eight appearances all up after a long term injury sidelined him for a large chunk of last season.
But the sudden availability of Pearce and his signing for four years by Newcastle effectively put a road-block in front of those ambitions.
“It’s been a really hard decision to move on,”he said.
“I’ve been here a long time now and I’d have loved to have stayed and played first grade here for the Knights long-term. It’s what I have always wanted to do.
I’d have loved to have stayed and played first grade here for the Knights long-term.- JACK COGGER
“But as we all know, things happen in football and the best opportunity for me is to move on next year and hopefully play more first grade.
“Pearcy has come up this year and everyone knows he is going to be a great asset to the club going forward and that’s just footy these days. Players come and go and sometimes you can’t stay at the same club your whole career.
“I’m sure he would have loved to have stayed at the Roosters but things happen.”
Cogger said linking with the Dogs under new coach Dean Pay will be exciting.
Pay and Cogger have teamed up at junior representative level as coach and captain of NSW Under 20’s in the past and there is plenty of mutual respect.
“I’ve had a bit to do with Dean and have been in camp with him once or twice and really enjoyed my time with him and I’m excited to be able to work with him again,”Cogger said.
“That played a part definitely in going to the Bulldogs. Knowing the coach is good and knowing he has that sort of confidence in me is good as well.
“But to be honest, I haven’t thought about it too much because it is still a way off so I’ll worry about that when the time comes.”
At this stage, that won’t be until 2019 with the Knights refusing a formal request from Cogger’s manager Michael Newton for an early release to link with the Bulldogs immediately.
Cogger dismissed any suggestion he is dirty on the Knights for not allowing him to go.
“I’m not worried. I’m young, I’m 20 and I’ve played first grade but to be honest, I am ahead of where I probably thought I would be so I have a lot to be thankful for,”he said.
“As long as I keep improving as a player and keep developing, I’m happy.
“It’s a good sign for me that the Bulldogs wanted me early – it shows they are keen. But at the moment, I’m here at the Knights and that’s where I’m going to be for 2018. Hopefully, I’ll play a few first grade games and continue to grow as a player.
“Browny understands I’m looking for an opportunity but he also thinks I can still play a part this year in the club going forward and I’m keen to be a part of that.
“The last couple of years, the club hasn’t really had the depth and we have struggled so to be a part of where we have come from, I’m excited to think I’ll play some part in us coming out of that this season.”
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