Knights put faith in Fa'aoso
Ben Horne, NRL.com
Powerhouse forward Richie Fa’aoso has backed up his match-turning performance for Newcastle last night by signing a new three-year-deal with the club.
The Knights had tried to finalise a deal with Fa’aoso weeks ago, but negotiations were stalled because of a dispute between the player and his management company.
Things have now been sorted however, and the Tongan International will remain a crucial member of the red-and-blue crusade.
“He’s agreed to a new three-year deal,” football manager Warren Smiles told NRL.com today.
“He has been playing some great footy and I think with the steps he’s taken, the club recognised he was a valuable player to sign going forward.
“With his power, strength and speed and everything else he’s very dangerous.
“He’s a lot more settled and I think that showed in his game on Monday night.”
Fa’aoso turned the match against Souths when he came onto the field, ran the ball strongly and injected some much-needed life into the Knights’ second-half comeback.
Smiles believes the contract resolution played a big part in Fa’aoso’s performance.
‘He had a couple of patchy weeks when it was all going on, I don’t think he could concentrate… Monday night was a sign that he’ll probably do well now,” Smiles says.
“We thought he turned the game against Souths, just his impact really did make a difference to the flow of the game. Just when we needed those good carries he came on and made a couple of really good runs and scored a try, so he was pretty important to the game.”
In more positive news for Newcastle, who have powered into fifth position on the ladder, back-rower Cory Paterson has nearly completed his comeback.
Paterson, who has been battling injuries and depression, was 18th man for the Knights against the Rabbitohs and is hoping to play a part in his team’s push for the finals.
“With nine games left he’s another one that really will be significant,” Smiles says.
“His health is back on track and if he can just get over his injuries and get himself right, he only needs a couple of local games to get a bit of timing back… so he’ll be in the mix.
“The main thing when he was out was just about his health and about his well-being. We weren’t trying to put any stresses on him coming back to play, he probably did a bit of that himself just through his disposition, his nervousness about where he was at.
“But I think taking that time to make sure his health was right was the main thing – and he’s realised that now.
“He’s pretty settled and he’s back now thinking more clearly about how to get back and come back into the first grade side, rather than rushing it.”
Unfortunately for the Knights representative prop Ben Cross – who it was hoped would be back in time for the finals – is gone for the year, however in coming weeks they are looking forward to welcoming back Dan Tolar, Cameron Ciraldo, Scott Dureau and James McManus to their first grade ranks.