Newcastle coach Adam O’Brien says mid-season recruit Jake Clifford could be thrown into the Knight’s team as soon as this Sunday just a week after playing his last game for North Queensland.
Clifford played in what turned out to be his final appearance for the club that handed him his NRL debut in 2018 in last Friday’s win over the Warriors.
The 23-year-old had signed a deal to join Newcastle from next season, but Blake Green’s sudden retirement opened the door for him to make the move south immediately to help a side missing halves Mitchell Pearce and Kurt Mann.
“He’d be a chance, for sure,” O’Brien said after Newcastle’s crucial 18-10 win over Manly on Sunday.
“It was a remarkable job what he went through. It would have been emotional for him because he played really well for the Cowboys, and then departed on the right note. We’ve got a couple of sessions this week and we’ll see how we go from there.”
Clifford was in Newcastle to cheer his new teammates on against the Sea Eagles and he’s looking forward to playing in front of some of the best fans in the league.
“I’m really pumped,” he told the club’s website.
“It was an exciting day to get down here and come straight to the ground to witness my first home game. To see the crowd and the support they get, I’m looking forward to putting the jersey on.”
WATCH // Jake Clifford’s first interview as a Newcastle Knight 🙌
His arrival comes on the back of a crucial win that has them level on points with the eighth-placed Dragons and suddenly back in the hunt for a finals berth after a difficult few weeks as they struggled with injuries, form and off-field rumblings.
But with Pearce and Kalyn Ponga set to rejoin the club in the coming weeks, the Knights are trending in the right direction, with Clifford the final piece of a puzzle that seemed impossible to solve a month ago.
“We’re only halfway through the year and we’re two points out of the eight,” their coach said.
“We’ve got a lot of experience on its way…they’re coming to help pretty soon.
“I’m not giving up on this season, so any time you can add to your roster halfway through – and he’s a good attrition to us – then we’re going to keep fighting. We’ll fight all the way through to the final game.”
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