NRL: It means "everything" for Lachlan Fitzgibbon to stay at Newcastle Knights | photos

Knights fans will have to get used to seeing the distinctive long locks of Lachlan Fitzgibbon for a little longer.

Not only is he keen to keep the rangy mane over the off-season and maintain the old-school tape approach for next year, but he will once again be playing in Newcastle.

The 23-year-old Merewether-based South Newcastle junior has signed a two-year deal with the Knights, which will keep the back-rower at the NRL club until the end of 2019. 

Fitzgibbon had already achieved a dream by debuting in 2015 but the Lions product will now continue to wear his beloved red and blue after impressing with eight tries, including Sunday’s double, from 14 appearances in a barnstorming back-end to the season.      

“It means everything,” he said following Wednesday’s announcement.

“Being a local junior your number one goal in life is to pull on an NRL jersey and even more so being at home. 

“We’re lucky enough in Newcastle to be a one town team and every junior here wants to play for the Knights.”

Fitzgibbon was coming off-contract and in August the Knights tabled an offer, but despite the distraction of rumoured interest from elsewhere he said leaving was a “last resort” and the security of finally extending his existing deal was welcomed. 

“My first priority was always to stay in Newcastle,” he said.

“I love being here, it’s my home town and I don’t really want to leave at any stage so to be locked in for the next couple of years is unreal.

“Whether there was interest from anyone else I’m not too sure, I left that for my manager to sort out.

“But I think the club knew, my manger knew, and my family and friends knew that I wanted to stay.

“That being said Browny wanted me to stay as well, which gave me added confidence.

“We wanted to come up with a deal by the end of the season leading into next year and now there’s a bit of a break so I can hit the ground running [for pre-season training] on November 1.”

Fitzgibbon was inspired by the weekend’s turn out at old boys’ day – both from famed ex-players to crowd attendance once again supporting a last-placed team. 

The second-rower feels the Knights are well placed to move up the ladder in the years ahead and he wants to help lead the push forward.

”There’s been a lot of growth over the last year in particular,” he said.

“A lot of us played a bit before our time and while I’m still [relatively] inexperienced I don’t see myself as a young bloke anymore.

“I’ll be 24 next year and a lot of boys will be hitting their straps at around the right age to make a mark in first grade.

“Plus a couple of recruits coming in will definitely help for bigger and better things next season.”

As for losing the “little tape addition” and a possible summer trim.

“No she’s staying,” he said.

“Until I get conned enough by my missus or someone else to cut it off.”

At least 11 players remain off-contract at the Knights, including centre Peter Mata’utia.

Others include Brendan Elliot, Luke Yates, Josh Starling, Jack Stockwell, Jaelen Feeney, Pauli Pauli, Jacob Gagan, Will Pearsall, David Bhana and Tyrone Amey.

It is believed Mata’utia has been offered a deal. 

In other contract negotiations Knights’ targets Adam Blair (Broncos) and Gerard Beale (Sharks) have been approached but are yet to confirm if they will play in Newcastle or elsewhere. Both have been strongly linked to the New Zealand Warriors.