Newcastle Knights reward Cessnock grandfinal centre Brayden Musgrove with a two-year-deal

OPPORTUNITY: Cessnock Goannas 2020 grand final hero Brayden Musgrove has signed a two-year deal with the Newcastle Knights. Picture: Michael Hartshorn
OPPORTUNITY: Cessnock Goannas 2020 grand final hero Brayden Musgrove has signed a two-year deal with the Newcastle Knights. Picture: Michael Hartshorn

Head of recruitment Clint Zammit says the Knights will be patient and play a waiting game before finalising the final spot on their roster for this season after the signing of Cessnock outside back Brayden Musgrove on a two-year deal.

Musgrove 22, who played in the Goannas' premiership-winning Newcastle league side last season, has landed an NRL contract after impressing Zammit and coach Adam O'Brien while on a train-and-trial deal during the pre-season.

He will fill the 29th spot on the roster, leaving just one position open in the squad with the Knights having until June 30 to settle on a final recruit.

Zammit had been hoping North Queensland playmaker Jake Clifford, who has signed with the Knights for 2022 and 2023, may be released early by the Cowboys but that now appears a long-shot.

"We'll take a wait-and-see approach with that last spot now that we've got Brayden on board," Zammit told the Newcastle Herald.

"Once we start playing, it might be that there is a position we need to strengthen or a player might become available who we believe will improve our overall squad.

"It's a case of being patient and see what happens."

Zammit said Musgrove had proven over the pre-season that he was willing to fight for an opportunity.

"He is big and strong and has always had the ability - he just needed to prove he was willing to make some sacrifices and train really hard which is what he's done," Zammit said.

"He's a local boy which is great and Adam's been really impressed with him which is why we've given him this opportunity. I've got no doubt he will put plenty of pressure on some of our more established outside backs."

Brayden Musgrove

Brayden Musgrove

Musgrove, who came through the juniors and into the NSW Cup side at the Knights before joining Manly's full-time squad last season only to leave without playing a game for the Eagles, is excited about getting another opportunity.

"I picked up a knee injury a couple of weeks into pre-season training at Manly and never really felt comfortable down there before making the decision to come home and play for Cessnock last year," Musgrove said.

"I really enjoyed playing back home but it was a bit of an eye-opener for me and I just thought I needed to do whatever I had to to get another crack [at the NRL] because playing locally, there is always going to be time afterwards to do that.

"When I got the offer to train with the [Knights] boys in the pre-season, I saw it as my last chance so I knew I had to give it everything.

"Now to get the contract, I'm heaps happy about it and real excited and grateful as well and with the two years, it's good to know the club has that sort of belief in me. To have someone like Adsy [O'Brien] agree to give me that opportunity means he has some belief in me so it's up to me now to repay that.

"It's the hardest I've ever trained to be honest and I've never been in better shape. Hopefully, I can make the most of it when I get the chance."

This story Cessnock Goannas centre joins the Knights on two-year deal first appeared on Newcastle Herald.

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