Stockwell to honour schoolmate McKinnon
Incoming Newcastle prop Jack Stockwell can't wait to honour former schoolmate, teammate and now Knights clubmate Alex McKinnon when he pulls on the red and blue jersey in 2015.
The Knights extended McKinnon's contract at the club in April despite the Aberdeen junior's career-ending spinal injury, giving Stockwell the chance to join his former St Gregory's College schoolmate and Dragons NYC teammate at the club.
When the NRL celebrated Rise For Alex Round last year, high profile players from Johnathan Thurston to Greg Inglis to Jarryd Hayne suited up in the No.16 jersey – the jersey McKinnon was wearing when he was injured – and at the Dragons, that honour went to Stockwell.
While the pair won't get the chance to run out onto the field together, the thought of doing it for his mate is a huge motivation for the ex-Dragon.
"Bloody oath it is [exciting to play for him]. I can't wait until he comes down for a few games this season," Stockwell told NRL.com.
"To… see him in the sheds. It will be a great experience. I'm really looking forward to it."
The Knights have more reason to be thankful to McKinnon, who discussed with Stockwell about making a move to the Hunter.
Though McKinnon's advice wasn't the only factor in Stockwell's signing on, the Picton Magpies junior said McKinnon's praise of the club and district did come into consideration before he signed the three-year deal that will tie him to the club until the end of the 2017 season.
"I did speak to him a couple of times about the move up here and he told me how good a club it was and how good the boys and fans are up here. He had a good time up here… so I thought coming up here would be a good experience for me," Stockwell said.
"Alex is very passionate, and when he speaks about Newcastle he has always been very passionate. When he talked to me about it you could just see how much he wanted me to come here and how much he knew I'd like it here.
"I took his words into consideration. So I'm happy I'm here, I've been having a ball so far at training and looking around Newcastle."
As for McKinnon's health, Stockwell was buoyed to see how far he had progressed at a recent fundraiser considering the initially grim outlook.
"We obviously had the RiseForAlex fundraiser up in Aberdeen recently which a few boys and I attended," Stockwell said.
"It is just great to see where he's at from where he's come from. It's a real inspiration for not only me but for all the boys here at the club and all the fans as well."