Lachlan Fitzgibbon admits he hasn’t spent enough time around success to know exactly what it feels like.
He played a part in a NSW Cup premiership win with the Knights back in 2015 as he was coming through the system but given the Knights won the first of three straight wooden spoons in the top grade that year and are only just now emerging from the doldrums, it’s little more than a distant memory.
But the blossoming backrower can certainly sense a different vibe this off-season which stretches not only through the playing group and staff but also around town among the fans.
“There is definitely a real feeling here that everyone is pretty excited about,” he told the Newcastle Herald.
“I think the town can feel it too and are right behind us. I’ve never really been at a successful organisation to know what real success feels like but I think everyone believes an opportunity is there for us now.
“Whether it is this year or next year or in the near future, I’m not too sure but it’s one of the main reasons why I extended my contract here and don’t want to leave Newcastle.
“I want to be here when the success comes.”
But Fitzgibbon is taking nothing for granted on any front as a new season approaches.
Despite the dramatic improvement in his game in recent seasons and having one of the best try-scoring strike rates of any forward in the NRL, the 24-year-old doesn’t see himself as having a mortgage on a backrow position at the club.
He said he is far from being immune from the possibility of missing out on an NRL jumper given the influx of quality new recruits.
“I wouldn’t put myself down as any permanent spot-holder,” he said.
“There are some good signings that have only made the squad much stronger and the flip-side of that is there is more competition for spots.
“But that can only be a good thing because it brings out the best in the players and it drives high standards. Our standards have gone to another level as they should with the personnel we’ve brought in and the higher expectations.”
Asked if he is looking to better the nine tries he scored last season that saw him finish just behind Ken Sio as the team’s leading try-scorer, Fitzgibbon said:
“I haven’t set any try-scoring goals, I just take them as they come.
“It’s just good playing off the back of quality halves and we’ve got quality halves here at the moment.
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“I’ll do my best about trying to get over the line but at the end of the day, it’s about winning games.”
As for any talk of higher representative honours such as State of Origin down the track, Fitzgibbon says he is not thinking that far ahead.