Unwanted hooker Danny Levi will be paid $150,000 by the Knights to play for Manly this season with his manager given a verbal assurance by the Sea Eagles a contract will finally be ready to sign next week.
Levi, who continues to train with the Knights but was noticeably absent from Wednesday's official team photograph session, has agreed to a one year deal at Manly worth around $225,000 with Newcastle understood to be topping up the remainder of his $375,000 final-year contract.
Of that $150,000 payout, the former Kiwi Test hooker has already earned close to $80,000 in the two and a half months since pre-season training kicked off in November.
It is not clear why the contract saga continues to drag out but Levi's agent Mario Tartak has been told the deal should be finalised early next week.
There is no shortage of interest in the Knights director of football job with the club fielding more than 150 applications from all over Australia and overseas following the resignation of Brian Canavan.
Meetings were held earlier this week to narrow the field down to a shortlist of six.
With Canavan staying on in the role until an appointment is made, the club is taking its time to make sure they get the right person. Coach Adam O'Brien will have a big say in who gets the job.
There has been plenty of interest from the business world and from other sporting codes including the AFL but we're hearing the successful applicant will more than likely come with NRL experience from a rival club.
The interview process will begin in a couple of weeks when Knights CEO Phil Gardner returns from overseas.
On the money
Their season may have badly imploded, resulting in a $500,000 payout for departed coach Nathan Brown, but the Knights still managed to record a healthy profit for 2019. The club's financials are yet to be made public by the NRL and Knights CEO Phil Gardner refused to speculate on a figure when we inquired during the week but we're hearing the Knights could have f inished as much as $800,000 in the black for the year.
It is down on the $1.1 million profit made the previous year but factoring in Brown's golden handshake and the way the season finished, it's a great result for Wests Group.
Corporate support and average crowds were strong while memberships broke though the 20,000 barrier for the first time in history.
It's prompted the club to pour even more resources into the football department this year in a bid to try and narrow the gap between them and the premiership heavyweights. The spend on the footy department could be as much as $300,000 higher than in 2019.
Funds for fireys
A keen Knights fan has forked out $5000 for a game-day coaching experience with Adam O'Brien to help raise money for the bushfire appeal. The offer to spend game-day with the Knights coach was part of an on-line auction organised by the Knights to assist the appeal.
All up, more than $18,000 was raised with Kalyn Ponga's Australian World Cup Nines jersey and head-gear attracting the next highest bid of $4500.
Ex-ref's new gig
Former Newcastle RL operations manager and ex-NRL referee Adam Devcich has jumped ship from the Melbourne Storm to work for the Knights in a part time role this season.
Devcich, who refereed 136 NRL games between 2019 and 2016, was hired by the Storm on a part time basis midway through last year to assist the club with disciplinary issues. The Knights followed Melbourne's lead by bringing in another ex-referee Steve Lyons in a similar role later in the season.
Devcich, who lives locally with his young family, left his job with the Newcastle league before Christmas after landing the Knights gig under coach Adam O'Brien. He also runs two F45 fitness centres on the Central Coast.
"I really enjoyed my time last season with the Storm but it made things tough to manage work-wise," he said.
Newcastle RL CEO Matt Harris is undecided on whether to replace Devcich.
O'Brien will also employ a part-time wrestling and kicking coach this season as the club ramps up its professionalism.
Plenty of punch
Ex-Newcastle Knight Nathan Ross' NRL career may be over due to injury but that hasn't stopped him from finding another sport to take care of the competitive juices.
We're hearing the former Knights flier, who was medically retired by the NRL because of chronic groin and pelvis injuries, has turned his hand to boxing and will step into the ring for an amateur fight at Doyalson RSL club early next month.
He'll be defending an unbeaten record too. His only previous fight was back in 2013 when he beat rookie Dylan Vadjanal at a Newcastle Rugby League fight night when he was playing for the Kurri Bulldogs. That night, he won a points decision over three rounds after agreeing to the fight on short notice.
This time, he has had four months preparing under the eye of Belmont trainer Nathan Swadling.
They may have picked up the wooden spoon in the Newcastle RL last season and be battling financially to match it with the competition heavyweights but community spirit is clearly alive and well at the Lakes United footy club. With the generous assistance of a host of local businesses, club officials like new president Craig Kimmorley and committeeman Mick Sullivan have been at the forefront of a charity drive by the club to aid the bushfire appeal with the dressingrooms at their local ground Cahill Oval full of donated goods.
After loading up, a couple of truck loads of items will be heading down the freeway bound for the South Coast at around 8 am this morning.
"We've been working with local businesses and liaising with the Cobargo Rural Fire Service captain to find out what they really need down there and we'll be trucking down a whole heap of stuff including poly piping, fencing material, hay - that sort of thing," Kimmorley said.
"It's for a great cause and the club is glad to help."
Instead of the usual rugby league representative clash against a Ron Massey Cup team, there are suggestions the Newcastle Rebels may play in a quad series also involving Illawarra and Canberra at Maitland in May. The new concept is currently being discussed.
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