They beat Cronulla to the punch in the battle for Mitchell Pearce.
Now, the Newcastle Knights have pulled off another coup at the Sharks expense by pinching one of the Shire's most promising junior outside backs.
The Newcastle Herald understands Jesse Ramien, a centre-winger who played for the Junior Kangaroos and NSW Under 20’s last year and was named in the Holden Cup Team of the Year, has agreed to link with the Knights from next season.
Ironically, Ramien 20, made his NRL debut for Cronulla on the wing against the Knights in the final round last season at McDonald Jones Stadium, diving over in the corner to score a try in the Sharks’ 26-18 win.
A former Coonamble Bears junior, Ramien had been ear-marked as a future star by Sharks coach Shane Flanagan with his top grade debut a reward for an outstanding season at club and representative level.
It’s understood several NRL clubs were in the race to sign him but the cashed-up Knights produced a deal and pathway that was too good to knock back.
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Knights legend Danny Buderus, who played a significant part in helping the club secure Pearce and fullback Kalyn Ponga, is also believed to have been an influence in Ramien’s decision.
Ramien, who played NSW Under 16’s back in 2013 alongside current Knights youngsters Brock Lamb and Jack Cogger, is a product of the NSWRL Pathways Program which Buderus has been heavily involved with.
He told NSWRL.com.au late last year he has gained an understanding of what it takes to be a leading player from Buderus.
“’Bedsy’ and Matt King, they taught us heaps, not just about footy and training but also about a lot of the lessons they learned when playing in the NRL and in Origin,” Ramien told the website.
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“They shared with us the ‘spirit’ of the Origin game, the way it’s played. Coming from someone like those guys, with what they’ve achieved in the game, it really sunk in. Throw ‘Freddy’ (Brad Fittler) in that mix too, he’s been great in developing my game as well.”
Asked about making his NRL debut in front of a big crowd on Old Boys Day in Newcastle, Ramien said:
“It was an unreal experience, every kid that plays footy all they want to do is to one day play first grade,” Ramien said.
“To achieve that childhood dream, it was unbelievable. I was lucky enough to grab a try, it was an afternoon I’ll never forget.”
Knights coach Nathan Brown could not be contacted on Sunday for comment but it is understood the club view Ramien as a long-term centre prospect.
With more than $1 million still sitting in their salary cap, it is no secret the Knights are still chasing a centre and a prop for this season and are ready to pounce.