Jesse Ramien bagged a double himself, set up another try for his winger Valentine Holmes and had front seat viewing as the Knights fell apart at the hands of Cronulla last Sunday.
But while he is featuring in a side many believe is capable of going all the way this season, the young Sharks centre says he doesn’t have the slightest pang of regret about signing with the Knights for the next two years.
Ramien 21, pledged his future to Newcastle back in March and nothing that has happened since has given him cause for second thoughts.
His form with Cronulla has also vindicated the Knights’ decision to go hard for him.
“I’m totally committed to the Sharks for this season and that is the only focus at this stage,” he told us.
“But I don’t regret the decision I’ve made at all. I made it early so that it wasn’t hanging over me and Newcastle is a great place.”
A contributing factor to leaving the Sharks was Ramien’s five year old daughter LaSharn, who lives with her mother on the Central Coast.
“Being closer to her was a big part of it for me but it wasn’t the only reason,”he said.
“I think Browny [coach Nathan Brown] is really turning the club around up there. That’s something he talked to me about and it’s something I really wanted to be a part of. I can see how good it is going to be up there in the years to come.
Newcastle is not foreign territory for Ramien.
While he was born in Dubbo and grew up in Coonamble, he moved to Newcastle on his own when he was 11 after his parents sent him to live at Kirinari Hostel in Garden Suburb.
He spent Years 8 and 9 at Hunter Sports High and featured in a pretty decent school league side that also contained Sione Mata’utia and Teveta Pangai Jnr.
“We did alright – I think Westfields beat us in the final of the Statewide competition that year,”he said.
It was after Ramien moved to the Central Coast to live with his aunt that he became a dad at 16 and was picked up by Manly before ultimately landing at the Sharks.
Role more than just NRL coach
It seems Nathan Brown’s contract extension with the Knights will see him take on much more than just the head coaching duties in the future with CEO Phil Gardner telling us he “won’t necessarily live or die on the performance of first grade”.
“We don’t see Nathan as just a first grade coach. We see him as a whole of club and region coach. He’s got the skills to work across all the different areas of the club,”Gardner said.
“The juniors and the district juniors, the juniors in the country and on the Central Coast - it’s a much bigger role that we would like to see him develop into.
“So it is different to what other clubs are asking of their coaches. They are first grade coaches who live and die on the first grade performance.
“For us, we are taking a whole of club approach to it. We want Browny to be involved in the club all the way through in a regional development capacity.”
Irony in Dogs signing Meaney
It was hard to miss the irony this week with the news young Knights fullback Nick Meaney is headed to the Bulldogs for the next three seasons.
Up until a week or two back, all the mail suggested Meaney was Wests Tigers-bound. That was until the Dogs finally decided they had to do something significant about their dire salary cap position and gave the green light for Moses Mbye to negotiate elsewhere.
With Mbye’s signing closing the door on Meaney at the Tigers, the Bulldogs pounced on him as a much cheaper replacement option.
A fatter pay packet and his desire to play fullback in the NRL gave the Knights little hope of retaining him.
Is Aaron Woods Sharks-bound?
The latest mail surrounding unwanted Bulldogs prop Aaron Woods has him heading to the Cronulla Sharks next season.
As for the rumours linking him to Newcastle, Knights officials never got excited about the Woods speculation because they knew early on he didn’t want to leave Sydney.
Dylan jockeying to be like dad
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and that’s exactly the case for leading Newcastle jockey Andrew Gibbons and his teenage son Dylan.
In Year 11 at All Saints College in Maitland, Dylan 16, has registered as a stable hand with trainer Kris Lees and is hopeful of becoming an apprentice jockey next year.
“He’s obsessed with the game – he can’t get enough of it,”Gibbons said.
“He’d never sat on a horse until late last year when he started riding ponies and I took him for some lessons and he has picked it up really quickly.
“The kids at his school have Wednesday off so he comes to the track and Kris was good enough to register him as a stable hand. He’s there on Saturday mornings as well and comes to the races.
“He’s starting to get a bit tall but he is a really lean build so we’ll see how it goes.”
Gibbons, who has ridden more than 900 careers winners, says the prospect of Dylan following in his foot-steps excites him.
“It would be great to one day ride against each other,” he said. That would be pretty special I reckon but we’ll wait and see what happens.”
Knights chase reinforcements
What price the Knights signing one or two players before the June 30 deadline?
Reinforcements are desperately needed to bolster the roster and former Blues Origin prop Tim Grant, who will come off the bench for the Tigers against the Roosters tomorrow, is one of a number of players the Knights are eyeing off to potentially bring in.
Is this the end for Riley?
Cessnock halfback Riley Brown’s season is over because of a torn pec and it may also be the end of the former Knight’s playing career.
It is understood the Goannas have deregistered Brown with Central releasing Dan Metcalf to return to the club.
Kurri’s Redman treatment poor
So Kurri are refusing to grant Chad Redman an unconditional release but have no problems with Pete Cronin returning after he sought and was granted a release from Wests.
Double standards maybe?