Rugby Union: Former Hamilton Hawks lock Nick Palmer joins NSW Waratahs for 2018 | photos

Newcastle rugby union player Nick Palmer has scored his first contract with the NSW Waratahs.

Fresh from a stint with New Zealand provincial outfit Hawke’s Bay, the former Hamilton and NSW Country Eagles lock was on Friday named in the 2018 state squad.

Palmer, 26, is one of eight new additions announced by the NSW Waratahs, which also includes Wanderers prop and recent Australian under-20 representative Harry Johnson-Holmes.

Palmer’s coach was Scott Coleman when rising through the ranks at Hamilton between 2009 and 2014, which included two first grade premierships.    

“It’s unreal for him,” Coleman said. 

“He’s a pretty committed guy and trains hard so it’s a good reward.”

Palmer was one of 10 players inducted into Hamilton’s hall of fame earlier this year when celebrating the club’s 50th anniversary. He won titles in 2010 and 2012, but lost deciders in 2011 and 2013.

In recent campaigns he has played Shute Shield with North Sydney, including the club’s drought-breaking 2016 triumph, and trained with the extended NSW Waratahs squad last summer.

Coleman said Palmer “started in a fair few games” while in New Zealand the last few months.

Previously he has also linked with National Rugby Championship franchises the NSW Country Eagles (2015) and the Sydney Rays (2016). 

Palmer, who started playing the sport while at renowned Sydney high school St Joseph’s College in 2006, has signed a one-year deal with the Waratahs.

Johnson-Holmes picked up a three-year contract.

Next year’s Super Rugby season has NSW kicking off against the Stormers at home on February 24 after an opening-round bye.

NSW coach Daryl Gibson said Palmer and Johnson-Holmes had earned their opportunities.

“We are looking forward to further developing this group of young men,” Gibson said.

“They have impressed the coaching team with their attitudes and willingness to improve and are working hard to succeed. 

“The expectation is that they arrive ready to perform and make the most of their opportunity to compete with their teammates for starting spots.”

2018 SIGNINGS: Nick Palmer, Alex Newsome, Lalakai Foketi, Will Miller, Cody Walker, Shambeckler Vui, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Lachlan Swinton.