The father of Knights backrower Lachlan Fitzgibbon has rubbished suggestions the club's $1 million major sponsorship deal with health fund NIB would be in jeopardy if his son is not re-signed by the club. Fitzgibbon's father is high profile NIB CEO Mark Fitzgibbon, a former Knights board director and close friend of Knights CEO Phil Gardner. Throughout his career, Lachlan Fitzgibbon has had to deal with an almost constant stream of innuendo suggesting he was getting a free ride at the club because of the so-called influence being wielded by his father. In recent weeks, after he was dropped from the NRL squad after the loss to Melbourne, social media criticism has again ramped up about why the club is preparing to re-sign the 27-year-old for a further two years. Plenty of critics of the move have implied the decision is directly linked to fears around losing the major sponsorship if he isn't re-signed. Mark Fitzgibbon strongly refuted this when we put it to him this week. "It's absolute nonsense," Fitzgibbon told us. "I have no influence whatsoever on the workings of the club and I have little to do with the sponsorship decision of NIB. CEO's just don't make these sorts of decisions - they're made by other people more expert in that than I am." Fitzgibbon said his son has made a career for himself in the NRL because he has risen above the innuendo. "Lachlan has had to deal with this for a long time, right from the time he was a junior," he said. "He's a local kid, a South Newcastle junior, and to his great credit, he succeeded in spite of all that pressure, in spite of that innuendo. "Nobody was challenging his place at the Knights a couple of years ago [when he was talked about as a potential Origin player]. No-one was questioning him then. "In the past couple of seasons, he certainly hasn't been advantaged as a player by the constant changing of personnel, particularly in the halves. And this year, he didn't have an off-season because of injury and didn't start until round 8 because of serious shoulder surgery. "He's not in the squad at the moment but I've got no doubts he will fight his way back. I'm sure he's already responding to that challenge. "All professionals have their critics and their setbacks and he'll respond in the way you'd expect him to. As a father, I couldn't be any prouder of him." For the record, NIB has been a Knights sponsor in some form since the very early years of the club and the major sponsor since 2017. Their current deal expires at the end of 2022. After a season full of heartache and despair and genuine fears his playing career could be over, Knights winger Edrick Lee may finally be seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. Lee has not played since fracturing a bone in his foot at pre-season training in January, two months after scoring a try on debut for Queensland in last year's Origin decider. Mystery has shrouded the injury ever since. Plenty of fans have lamented the fact he has not been on the field at all and questioning why a broken foot could be keeping him out so long. There have been few answers coming out of the club for good reason. The Knights have stayed tight-lipped out of respect to Lee's physical and mental well-being because of the challenges he has faced. Initially thought to be a 6 to 8 week injury, Lee had been training well and was all set to return in May when a pre-cautionary x-ray revealed the fracture had not healed at all. To complicate things, there were suggestions delicate surgery in the area to repair the bone may damage nerves and affect his chances of even walking afterwards. The good news is after eventually getting further specialists opinions, Lee finally had surgery a few weeks ago and is hopeful it has been a success. If it has, there is now also a chance he could be thrown a lifeline by the Knights for 2022 after the club indicated early in the season he would not be re-signed. Don't be surprised if Knights utility Connor Watson commits his future to the club as early as next week. Knights recruitment boss Clint Zammit flew to the Sunshine Coast on Thursday to link up with the squad after they came out of quarantine and to meet with Watson over his future. Despite fanciful media speculation elsewhere suggesting Watson wants out of the club, that could not be further from the truth. He wants to stay but was disappointed with the club's offer. We'll be highly surprised if common ground is not found and a deal not done to end the impasse.
To be fair, no matter what the club does you’d find a problem with. We’ve had some whingers in this forum over the years, but you are next level.Unfortunately we seem to have gone back to resigning players no one wants and letting the only decent ones go. Mann, Fitz and Gagai are total salary cap murdering signings. These players offer little to nothing on the field and every other club seems to know that but us. Pearce @ 700k is still big overs. Pardon my naysaying but there is absolutely nothing positive about any of those signings. Watson and Klemmer likely leaving compounds things.
It just feels like we're still so unprofessional as a club. Nowadays, teams can't afford to carry as much dead wood as we have. I honestly thought we'd turned a corner re: recruitment. This all feels so Hagan-esque. Perhaps our current play style is the most disheartening aspect of all though. Absolutely demoralising to admit it but we're once again going nowhere as a club and I'm feeling as though much of the positive work done by Brown and others in recent years is quickly being undone. When is the club going to become professional?
I'd be OK with that. The club looks after its own.If it heals as expected he may be offered a lifeline 1-year deal by the club.
I mean, he was getting 10 mins off the bench for about 3 years and no one knew anything about him and now that he’s got a chance to start he’s been impressive but he’s not going to turn the Sharks into a premiership threat. He seems like the sort of player who does well when the other cogs in the team are turning (which is a very Melbourne Storm type of thing) but if you’re losing the middle and aren’t getting chances to attack is Nico Hynes going to come up with the magic play to change the course of the game? Probably not.I agree, could well be wrong but the combination of late bloomer + Melbourne system raises a red flag for me.