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The ones who got away: Newcastle Knights

Unfortunately, club loyalty isn’t what it used to be. In this, the fourth article in the series, I’ll pick a team of the best players that got away from Newcastle since 2000.

The only criteria are that the player named must have made his debut for Newcastle, left after 2000, and then played with another NRL club, rather than just retired or headed to the ESL.

(Details in brackets are the year the player debuted for Newcastle and the number of games played for the club.)

1. Nick Meaney
2018, five games

After coming through the Knights system, he had an injury-interrupted debut season, and with Kalyn Ponga the bright new thing, headed to the Bulldogs in 2019 for more opportunity. He’d look good in their 17 now.

2. Anthony Quinn
2002, 103 games

After five years in the top grade, the powerful winger headed to the Storm, where he became one of their most consistent performers.

3. Timana Tahu
1999, 97 games

Tahu scored 82 tries in his 97 games with the Knights and was one of their best, winning a premiership in 2001 and regularly representing both NSW and Australia. He was a big loss for the club when he left for Parramatta in 2005, but returned in 2012 to finish his career where it all began.

Timana Tahu and Ricky Walford (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

4. Brad Tighe
2005, 44 games

Tighe had a great debut year with the Knights, fell out of form the following year and then had a very strong 2007 season. He then signed with the Panthers, where he was one of their most consistent performers for a number of seasons. A strong club player, but that’s all.

5. Akuila Uate
2008, 116 games

Uate was a sensational winger and represented both NSW and Australia during his time at Newcastle, but his best days were probably behind him by the time he signed for Manly in 2017.

6. John Morris
2001, 31 games

Morris was a good, versatile player that every club needs, who filled in just about everywhere for the Knights in 2002. He had strong competition for a spine position and it was no surprise to see him sign with Parramatta in 2008.

7. Tyrone Roberts
2011, 87 games

Roberts’ career started well but as Newcastle slid down the table towards another wooden spoon, he fell out of favour, and was released a year early to join the Titans in 2016.

8. Paul Rauhihi
1999, 19 games

A late bloomer, who made his NRL debut at age 26, he was mainly used off the bench but showed his true value once he moved to Canterbury in 2001, cementing his position in the New Zealand Test front row, and establishing a reputation as one of the best in the game. One that got away.

9. Michael Ennis
2003, 20 games

Had a fair bit of game time in 2004, but with Danny Buderus the preferred hooker, he wisely jumped ship to the Dragons in 2005, and his career kicked on from there.

Michael Ennis in a suit.

Michael Ennis (Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

10. Josh Perry
2000, 142 games

Played some of his best football in the Hunter and won a premiership in 2001, but by the time he signed with Manly in 2008, he was in need of a change of scenery, winning another premiership and Test team selection. A loss!

11. Joel Edwards
2010, 45 games

A solid performer, after rejecting several offers to stay there, he headed to Canberra in 2013 where he was once again reliable. He wasn’t missed by the Knights.

12. Joseph Tapine
2014, 20 games

After debuting at the age of 20, all the signs were that Tapine was a special talent. Unfortunately for Newcastle, he was released early from his contract to join the Raiders in 2016, and he’s now among the best forwards in the game – and one of the first players picked for New Zealand. A big, big loss.

13. Todd Lowrie
2003, 57 games

An extremely versatile performer who could fill in almost anywhere in the team, he had a steady start at Newcastle but left for Parramatta in 2007. His best years were probably with Melbourne between 2010 and 2012.

Lots of recognisable names there, but Timana Tahu, Paul Rauhihi and Joseph Tapine aside, they didn’t have any critical losses.

The rest were either just good club players, like Brad Tighe, Nick Meaney and Todd Lowrie, or players who just needed a change of scene, like Akuila Uate and Michael Ennis.

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