Lakes captain Chris Adams may still have the chance to hold the Newcastle Rugby League premiership trophy aloft again despite being called up to play for the Knights.
The NSW Country representative hooker will start training full-time with the NRL squad next week after playing NSW Cup for the Knights at No.2 Sportsground on Sunday, but having already notched up nine games for the Seagulls this season qualification requirements on the local front have largely been met.
There are nine rounds remaining in the NRL, including a bye, and with the last-placed Knights unlikely to feature in the semi-finals in either first or reserve grade it means Adams could potentially line up for frontrunners Lakes after the last round on August 28.
Newcastle RL play-offs start the same weekend with a decider scheduled for September 18 at Hunter Stadium, home of the Knights and the same place Adams led Lakes to the title last year.
Eligibility to play the grand final is based largely on where an individual has played more games that particular season according to Newcastle RL chief executive officer Matthew Harris.
“It is majority rules,” Harris said. “It is basically wherever you have played more games. The Knights have nine games left and he has already played nine with Lakes. So it just depends on how many games he plays with the Knights.”
Harris said Adams being selected for NRL straight from the Newcastle RL, similarly to Kerrod Holland and Nathan Ross in previous seasons, highlighted the important role this competition plays in rugby league development and may assist in future proposals for funding increases.
Newcastle Rebels coach Todd Edwards, who secured the NSW Country Championships on the weekend along with skipper and player of the final Adams, said he has seen plenty of talented players in the Hunter who could make the grade.
“It’s such a great reward for Chris, but I think it’s good for all the kids in the competition as well, to see the Knights looking this way,” Edwards said. “I think we have a few guys who could play a role in town – Jake Finn, Josh Charles, Ben Roose and Marcel Ikinofo are just some.”
Knights coach Nathan Brown said he had been casting an eye toward the grassroots game since kicking off in Newcastle this season.
“We will always look to give outstanding talent in the Newcastle Rugby League an opportunity to test their talents at a higher level,” Brown said.
“Chris has been in great form with Lakes and we are pleased to give him an opportunity to join our full-time squad and strengthen the depth in our roster.”
Brown also extended his gratitude to Adams’ club Lakes, who will now look to the likes of Nash Birch, Matt Calder and Jack Kelly to fill the vacant No.9 jersey.
“We would like to pass on our sincere thanks to Lakes United for releasing Chris for the remainder of the year," Brown said.