Inside Running with Nathan Ross

IT was a passage of play that probably went unnoticed by the fans and even, at the time, some of his teammates.

It wasn’t until coach Nathan Brown highlighted it in our video review of last week’s game against the Roosters that we all realised the individual effort involved.

First, he hustled up to put pressure on a Roosters clearing kick. Then he was the first middle forward back on our kick-return and took a hit-up in our red zone.

BRIGHT FUTURE: Sam Stone has continued to improve since making his NRL debut for the Knights against the Warriors in round one. Picture: Getty Images

BRIGHT FUTURE: Sam Stone has continued to improve since making his NRL debut for the Knights against the Warriors in round one. Picture: Getty Images

On the next couple of plays, he pushed up in support, then when we kicked downfield he was the player who led our kick-chase.

It was pretty inspirational stuff, especially when the player responsible was the youngest member of our team, Sam Stone.

He’s only 19, Stoney, but you’ll go a long way to find a more mature, humble kid.

This time last year, playing in the NRL was probably the last thing on his mind.

He was serving his apprenticeship in the under-20s and, while he scored a few tries and showed some potential, it is a massive step up to the top grade. But when he was offered a chance to train with the NRL squad during the 2017 pre-season, he just seemed to thrive in the environment and improved every week.

He showed enough to earn a trip to Auckland for the Nines, then a spot in our squad for the pre-season trial against Canberra.

When the team was announced for round one, I’m guessing Sam was pretty surprised. But none of his teammates were.

So far this year he’s played six of our seven games, and his go-ahead try against Gold Coast in round two was the stuff childhood dreams are made of.

It’s as if he was born to play first grade for the Knights, which, when you think about it, I guess he was.

Sam’s dad, of course, is former Newcastle coach Rick Stone, who spent a decade with the club as head coach and assistant coach.

During that time, all Sam wanted to do was wear the red and blue. He did so at junior level, but when Rick was sacked in 2015, perhaps it would have been easy for Sam to walk away.

I understand he had offers from other NRL clubs, and presumably he could have followed Rick when he signed to coach English club Huddersfield.

But Sam’s ultimate goal was always to run out onto McDonald Jones Stadium, representing his home town.

I reckon he’ll be doing it for many years to come.

And that’s just as well for the Knights, because he could easily have followed another career path and become a professional golfer.

After his efforts last week, it’s no surprise Sam has retained his spot for our trip to Townsville this weekend.

Funny as it sounds, we’re frustrated with our results but growing in confidence. All we need is a touch of luck and I reckon we’ll be celebrating a win.


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