Stability over Storm for Clydsdale
The chance to shadow Queensland and Australia captain Cameron Smith in Melbourne may have been an enticing factor but departing Knights hooker Adam Clydsdale's decision to join the Raiders in 2016 came down to stability and the big country town factor of the nation's capital.
With incoming Newcastle coach Nathan Brown telling Clydsdale's manager Andrew Woolnough the 22-year-old was surplus to requirements in September, Clydsdale's two-year deal with Canberra ended what has been an emotional month.
Hailing from Scone – 150 kilometres north-west of Newcastle – the assurance of former Knights 20s coach and current Raiders assistant coach Mick Crawley in explaining the lay of the land helped convince Clydsdale to sign on with the Canberra club.
"When it came to Canberra, talking to Ricky Stuart and Mick Crawley sealed it for me. But so did the two-year deal compared to Melbourne's one-year deal," Clydsdale told NRL.com.
"It would've been good to go to Melbourne and to work with Cameron Smith and Craig Bellamy. But with Canberra being a big country town and me being from Scone it'll help.
"Mick spoke more from a mate's point of view rather than a coach and he told me more about the club and the town which is good. He said all the blokes are mostly country fellas and I'll fit in well."
Clydsdale was heavily under the belief too that Canberra's style of play will allow him to utilise his running game more.
Excited by the club's forwards including Shannon Boyd, Paul Vaughan and Sia Soliola, Clydsdale – who has played 40 NRL games to date – was unperturbed by the challenge ahead involving dethroning hookers Josh Hodgson and Kurt Baptiste from their place in Stuart's 17.
"I like the style of way the Raiders play footy and the forwards excite me with all their big fellas there. They're good for quick play the balls which will allow me to bring my running game out," Clydsdale said.
"At the Knights I didn't really get to prove I had a running game so this is my chance to do it. In the 20s I used to be able to roam a fair bit and that's been hard to come by the past couple of years but with the Raiders' forwards it'll bring it out a little bit more."
"It's a big challenge for sure but I know every time I'm on the training paddock I'll compete and work hard because I want to be in that 17 so I'll be doing my best to earn my spot."
When it comes to departing Newcastle, the club which unearthed Clydsdale and nurtured him through to first grade from Harold Matthews, he didn't deny the emotion involved especially considering he just bought a house in a nearby suburb.
"I'm OK about it now but when it first happened there was definitely some emotion about leaving the club I love, but I'm looking forward to the next challenge and I can't wait to get down there," he said.
"I'm starting to look at all the positives on the way through now which is positive. I daresay when it's time to leave Newcastle for good I'll be emotional again but I'm looking towards the next challenge.
"Newcastle gave me the opportunity to debut in the NRL which has been a dream come true especially watching them when I was younger so I'm grateful for that.
"I just have to move on. I understand at the end of the day rugby league is a business."