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  • Former manager wishes Mata’utias well

    2018 - 07.03

    HE no longer looks after their professional interests, but player manager Chris Haddad insists there is no bad blood between him and former clients Sione, Chanel and Pat Mata’utia.
    Nanjing Night Net

    The brothers parted company with Haddad before signing new three-year deals with the Knights last Thursday and, according to Channel Seven, paid him a $175,000 severance fee.

    The split took an emotional toll on both parties as Haddad has known the boys since he was the president of their junior club and has been a long-time family friend and confidant.

    “We’ve seen him a couple of times and obviously left on good terms,” Sione said last Thursday. “We had to be mature about things.

    “We still keep in touch, and we’ve got to leave it at that.”

    Haddad has said little throughout the arbitration process and refused to discuss details of his reported settlement pay-out, but he wanted it known that he wished the boys well as they continued their careers.

    “The boys and I have been through a lot together and we still maintain a close relationship,” Haddad said.

    “I have known the Mata’utia family since the boys first joined Bankstown Cougars and came through the grades there, and while I am no longer their manager, we remain friends and I wish them nothing but the best for their future careers.

    “While there has been speculation in the media about a supposed pay-out figure, that is between myself and the boys and I have no intention of discussing that and making a private agreement public.”

    The Mata’utia brothers have signed with Warrick Wright’s Black Money management company, whose stable includes Dane Gagai, Tyrone Roberts and Timana Tahu.

    ■ Alex McKinnon will be guest speaker when Lakes launch their Newcastle Rugby League season at Swansea RSL Club on Friday night.

    The 23-year-old former Knights forward offered his services as a favour to Lakes coach Dean Noonan, who in his “day job” as Knights careers coach has helped McKinnon ease into a role in the club’s football department since returning to Newcastle two months ago.

    McKinnon is also keen to test the water to see if he has what it takes to make it on the after-dinner speaking circuit.

    A limited number of tickets are available at $130 each, or $1200 for a table of 10, and can be bought by contacting Swansea RSL on 4971 1329.

    ■ The Knights have a chance to ease the pain of their grand final loss to Penrith when they host the reigning NSW Cup premiers at Hunter Stadium at 12.40pm on Saturday.

    The Panthers pumped the Knights 48-12 in the NSW Cup decider at Allianz Stadium in September, and there will be several survivors from both teams backing up in Saturday’s main curtain-raiser to the NRL fixture.

    Newcastle winger Chanel Mata’utia is under a cloud after suffering a suspected broken nose courtesy of a head clash with James McManus at training on Wednesday.

    The Knights and Panthers both suffered surprise losses last weekend.

    Newtown shocked Penrith 24-8 at Penrith Park after the Panthers had kicked off their title defence with wins over Canterbury and North Sydney.

    The Jets are the only team the Knights have beaten this season.

    Newcastle kicked off with a 26-18 loss to the Warriors, beat Newtown 32-16, then went down 18-6 to Central Coast rivals Wyong Roos at Morry Breen Oval on Saturday.

    Meanwhile, the Knights and Panthers will chase their third wins of the season when they meet in the National Youth Cup game at 10.40am at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.

    Ninth-placed Newcastle pipped Gold Coast 19-18 at Robina on Sunday and the eighth-placed Panthers downed the Roosters 28-18 at Allianz Stadium on Monday.

    ■ While the big boys are banging heads at Hunter Stadium on Saturday, the Newcastle and Penrith junior teams will be doing likewise at Cessnock Sportsground.

    The Knights play the Panthers at 3pm in Harold Matthews (under 16s) and 4.30pm in SG Ball (under 18s).

    Seventh-placed Newcastle remained in the SG Ball finals hunt by upsetting fourth-placed Illawarra 26-14 at Cessnock on Saturday, but the Steelers won 30-16 in Harold Matthews, leaving the Knights second last.

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