Newcastle Knights have boosted their backline depth with the signing of former Canberra Raiders and Warriors centre Matt Allwood.
Allwood 25, linked with the club this week on a part-time contract and is expected to line up in a NSW Cup trial against North Sydney on Friday night at Redfern Oval.
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While he falls well short of being the top-line centre recruit coach Nathan Brown is still craving, the Scone-born Allwood does boast some NRL experience and could become a more than handy back-up this season.
“It’s a part-time deal that just gives us a little bit of extra insurance as far as our outside back situation goes,”Knights head of football Darren Mooney said.
“Simon [Woolford, NSW Cup coach] is taking a big squad down for a trial with North Sydney and Matty will have his first run for us in that.”
Allwood was set to play for Wynnum Manly in the Queensland Cup this year after finishing a three year deal at the Warriors at the end of last season.
But the Seagulls reluctantly agreed to released him on compassionate grounds with Allwood recently moving back to the Central Coast to be closer to his family.
Ironically, the Knights tried unsuccessfully to sign Allwood several years ago when he was still a teenager but he opted to join the Canberra Raiders after attending Farrar Agricultural High School.
He played in the juniors for the Raiders before making his NRL debut in the centres at 21 for the club in a 28-22 loss to the Cowboys in Townsville in round 1, 2014.
But after making 11 appearances that year in the top grade, he signed a three year deal with the Warriors where his NRL career stalled.
He managed just six NRL games during that period before his contract expired at the end of last season.
But he has been one of the Warriors leading players in the NSW Cup and represented NSW Residents in both 2016 and 2017.
After scoring three tries in three NRL games in 2015, he made four appearances in 2016 but did not get a look in last season under new coach Stephen Kearney.
It is understood Allwood’s signing won’t influence the club’s continued pursuit for a top-line centre if the right player comes on the market before June 30.
“We are keeping our options open,”Mooney said.
Meanwhile, the Knights are expected to officially announce the signing of young Cronulla Sharks centre Jesse Ramien on a two year deal before the end of this week.
In a move first revealed on the Herald website on Sunday night, Ramien, a Junior Kangaroo and NSW Under 20’s representative, has signed for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
It’s understood the Sharks were desperate to re-sign the 20-year-old, who made his NRL debut for the club against the Knights in last season’s final round, while the Bulldogs and Wests Tigers also hotly pursued the young centre.
Knights insiders claim suggestions Ramien’s signing was part of a swap deal involving Trent Hodkinson are well wide of the mark.
“His signing has absolutely nothing to do with Trent going to Cronulla,”a source said.
“The Sharks did everything they could to keep him.”