THE Knights have lost two home-grown rising stars to NRL rivals Penrith.
Newcastle-born forwards Sam Anderson and Ethan Cook, who will represent the Knights in the NSW Cup preliminary final against Balmain Ryde-Eastwood at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday, will play for the Panthers next season.
Penrith general manager of football Phil Gould told the Newcastle Herald last night that Anderson had signed a one-year contract and Cook had been secured for two years.
Anderson, who won the Knights’ National Youth Cup players’ player and player of the year awards in 2011, knocked the Panthers back at the end of last year to sign a one-year extension after Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett spoke to him and convinced him to stay and spend the off-season training with the NRL squad.
But Anderson could not break out of the NSW Cup ranks all season and Gould was not to be denied a second time.
After meeting with Anderson’s father, Peter, in Newcastle on the night of the Knights’ last game against Souths three weeks ago, Gould convinced the West Maitland Red Dogs junior to join the Panthers.
“I’ve enjoyed my time at Newcastle but I’m looking forward to the change at Penrith as well,” Anderson said last night.
“To be honest, being 21, you kind of need to make a decision, and I think the opportunity at Penrith is a lot better forwards-wise.
“There’s more of an opportunity for making my NRL debut there – in the next couple of years, hopefully – than there is at the Newcastle Knights.
“It’s all about chasing opportunity and there’s a good group of us going down there.”
Anderson and Cook will join Knights clubmates Wes Naiqama and Kyle O’Donnell among Penrith’s recruits for 2013.