Newcastle Knights confirm signing of Origin prop Jacob Lillyman

The Knights have taken another step in their NRL rebuild, signing veteran prop Jacob Lillyman on a one-year deal.

RECRUIT: Jacob Lillyman

RECRUIT: Jacob Lillyman

His recruitment comes just two days after the club had announced premiership-winning Melbourne forward Slade Griffin has also been lured to Newcastle until the end of the 2019 season.

With 250 NRL games and 14 State of Origin matches for Queensland, the long-serving Warriors' prop brings a wealth of experience to the Knights' young roster.

Already on the recruitment list are Brisbane duo Herman Ese’ese and Tautau Moga, and Sydney Roosters pair Aidan Guerra and Connor Watson.

The biggest fish is North Queensland teenage sensation Kalyn Ponga.

"Newcastle is a good young team on the up and I'm really looking forward to getting over there and getting stuck in," the 33-year-old Lillyman said in a statement on the club’s website on Thursday.

"I think the Knights have got some great young players, especially in the forwards, and I am keen to help them in their development.

“Newcastle is a very proud rugby league region and town and I can't wait to experience that, first hand.”

Lillyman could soon be joined at the Knights by another front-row veteran, Chris Heighington, who has reportedly been released by the Sharks.

Meanwhile, Anthony Griffin will guide Penrith until the end of the 2020 NRL season after Panthers boss Phil Gould confirmed a two-year extension for the head coach at their end-of-season awards night this week.

Following a semi-final finish this year, Gould praised Griffin for being just the second coach in the club's history to lead the Panthers to consecutive finals appearances.

The former Brisbane mentor had been tipped to remain at the foot of the mountains since midway through the year and Gould announced the deal on Wednesday night.

"He's had a wonderful start to his term here at Panthers," Gould said.

"His first two years at the club we've qualified for the finals. It's the first time we've been back-to-back finals for something like 15 years, and only for the third time in the club's history.

"He becomes only the second coach to do it in his first two years of coaching the Panthers.

"So much so that he's been rewarded with an extension of his contract until the year 2020, he brings a lot of great qualities to our club."

But while Griffin's long-term plans has now been finalised, speculation continues to surround the short-term future of star captain Matt Moylan.

Despite being in rehabilitation to address mental issues since the start of the finals series, the Panthers five-eighth is believed to want out and has been linked with a number of rival clubs.

Gould made no mention of Moylan's status on Wednesday, but insisted forward Sitaleki Akauola would be the only player to depart from this year's squad.

He said 24 players of next year's 30-man squad will have come through their program.

"And that's really special for us, so much so that we do not have to recruit a player from outside this club for the next two years, provided we retain all the players that we've got," he said.

"This year we will only lose one player, Sitaleki Akauola. We're not recruiting one player from another club because we've developed from within and we've built from within."

Gould also said their premiership window was open for the next two seasons and pre-empted the salary cap squeeze would follow.

"It's a fact of life that salary cap will erode into this," he said.

"As I've said to all the players, as soon as one of you wants a few more dollars, someone else has got to go. If someone else wants a few more dollars, that's another that's got to go.

"But our window of opportunity over the next two years when we don't have to recruit from outside, and we don't have to lose a player, gives this team and this club an opportunity to do something really special. I want to see it happen with this group of people."


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