COACH Nathan Brown believes the Knights’ marriage with Wests will help attract top-end players to the club as well as ensure the region’s best juniors are not lured away.
Brown met with Melbourne Storm back-up hooker Slade Griffin in Newcastle on Tuesday and confirmed that Brisbane Adam Blair was also a target.
Compared to a month ago, Brown said they were in a far stronger position to compete for players.
“Wests gives us credibility and financial stability,” Brown said. “I have no doubt the the higher profile players, the ones who demand higher-end money, their agents will feel far more comfortable with the situation that has come about today. With what the Knights have been through in the past, to have this now, is definitely going to be an advantage.”
The Knights have added Queensland back-rower Aidan Guerra and exciting prospects Tautau Moga, Herman Ese’ese, Connor Watson and Kalyn Ponga to the roster for next year.
Griffin is a potential replacement for the recently retired Rory Kostjasyn and Blair would add experience to their front-row rotation.
“I knew Slade from when I was at Melbourne,” Brown said. “He comes from an outstanding environment. It is no secret that we met with Mitch Rein and Michael Lichaa as well. We are trying to see which one is the best fit for us. We look at Adam Blair the same as we looked as Matt Scott. He is a player who is very experienced, a great trainer, good with his diet and has a great impact on every play in the squad, but in particular the younger players.”
Brown said he had kept Wests chief executive Phil Gardner informed about recruitment since it became apparent that they were likely to take control of the club.
“Wests are a big community club and they wouldn’t want is bringing the wrong type of people to the organisation,” Brown said.”
Gardner was part of a panel that appointed Brown two years ago and the CEO said again on Tuesday that he regarded the former Dragons hooker as a long-term coach.
“It’s great to know the support is there but today is not about myself, it’s more about the community,” Brown said. “With the support of Wests, the club can build itself back to where it was in the late 90s and early 2000s.”
Wests’ purchase of the Knights from the NRL hinged on the licensed club committing $10 million towards a proposed rugby league centre of excellence.
“To have something like a centre of excellence that at their front door, the reasons to leave the club will be a lot less,” Brown said. “Others clubs will have to offer them a lot to lure them away.”