Workhorse Knight prepares to retire
Veteran Newcastle forward Clint Newton has opened up about his retirement ahead of his final NRL game against the Panthers this Saturday afternoon, and the techniques he is utilising for the expectant tough transition out of the world of rugby league.
In a career spanning 15 years in both Australia and overseas, including his try-scoring role in Melbourne's 2007 grand final win, Newton remains content with his decision but is expecting a "reality check" as he ends a chapter which has consumed almost half his life.
Enabled through the help of friend Bill Nelson to savour the final weeks of his career, Newton, the former Country Origin representative, expressed his gratefulness to be able to see out the career he paved for himself on his own terms.
"My career isn't full of tomorrows anymore like it used to be, but I'm confident with where I am mentally. Bill has helped me a lot to work out where I am with this transition," Newton told NRL.com.
"The best advice he gave me was centred on taking as many mental snapshots as possible. Because once the moment passes you can never get it back, that's the good thing and the bad thing about time, so I've certainly snapshot the past few weeks.
"I've certainly tried to rely heavily on my gratefulness too which is why I think I'm in a really good place mentally about coming to the end of my career. But I have a great support network in my partner Carly, my daughter Hope, my parents, my sister and all my friends outside of rugby league – they'll all be there for me."
Newton's transition out of the world of rugby league isn't too dissimilar to the efforts his former teammate and now coach Danny Buderus has put in to evolve the Knights' winning culture over the final six weeks of the season.
Buderus made note of a "changing of the guard" following their admirable two-point loss to the Bulldogs last weekend, with Newton adding his growing pride in Newcastle's crop of young stars as they look towards creating a winning environment.
"We're trying to make sure that when we lose it's not through lack of effort, which is something Danny has in spades as a player and a coach. He lived and breathed his career based on effort and what he could do for someone else," Newton said.
"I've been incredibly proud of the young players in the backend of the year. In a perfect world you want to bring guys into a winning environment and give them plenty of confidence from the start.
"But a lot of these guys haven't been, so they've had to try and create it themselves. If you've never experienced it, sometimes it's hard to actually know or appreciate what it takes to do it but they have managed to do it on a few occasions now.
"The club is in a better position now for having these guys play in some of our recent games where we've played the competition's toughest teams. We've faced tough losses but we've had memorable wins too which is something they can draw on in the future."
While a home game at Newcastle would've been the preferred choice for his final moments in the NRL, Newton isn't complaining at being able to play his final game in Penrith – where he spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Choosing not to focus on the negatives attached to the game, with the loser of the clash securing the wooden spoon, Newton was focused on overcoming illness and a rib injury to produce one last commendable performance in Knights colours.
"Many people try to judge success on where you finish on the table, and I understand rugby league is a results-driven industry, but the two years I spent at Penrith – whilst we never made the finals – we had a number of great little wins internally and as a playing group," Newton said.
"That's what I was most proud of during that period. It's certainly disappointing for both teams now to be at the bottom of the table, and I'm not throwing off the importance of this weekend.
"But to me though it's about savouring the moment and hope I can put in a good personal performance for my footy side and we'll see what happens at the end of the game. I'm trying not to focus too much on the negative stuff.
"It's easy to be caught up in a lot of that and instead of looking at where you need to go, you're constantly looking back at your failings of the past and that's not productive."
While Newton's NRL career is coming to a close, the NSW Cup skipper was hopeful of extending his career in reserve grade if his team are able to beat the Sea Eagles at Belmore Sportsground on Saturday afternoon.