Gun forward Liam Knight was given the grand tour of the Gold Coast Titans, impressed by new coach Justin Holbrook and genuinely believed the club was about to enjoy some long overdue success.
But a brief conversation with Souths coach Wayne Bennett convinced Knight to ignore a big-money offer from the Titans – around $500,000 a season – to remain at Redfern for less.
Liam Knight was sold the Gold Coast dream before a chat with Wayne Bennett convinced him to stay put. Credit:AAP
Knight personally contacted Titans football manager Mal Meninga to break the news he would be staying put.
Meninga was so keen on Knight he confirmed this week the Gold Coast would have seriously entertained cutting Jai Arrow loose a year early had they landed the 25-year-old's signature in exchange.
"We wanted him, he's a different beast," Meninga said. "His playing ability is excellent, he's learned some life lessons over a short period of time, he's only 25, and I reckon he would have brought a point of difference to us with his maturity and experience and he's that aggressive-type of player – he more or less carried the Souths pack on his back when Sam Burgess couldn't play last year."
Sam Burgess says Liam Knight is at the stage of his career where he didn’t need the pressure of being a top Titan.Credit:AAP
The fact he ignored such a big-money offer, especially after a few short stints at Manly, the Roosters and Canberra, said so much about Knight's character, according to former teammate and good friend Burgess.
"I always encourage players to not make decisions based on money because you'll only make it for the wrong reasons," Burgess said. "Money comes into it at some point … but for this deal right now, he's 25 and only played 33 games, and if he takes a big-money deal somewhere else, the pressure will be on him as one of the main players at a club.
"I just don't think it was the right decision for him at this time in his career.
"He turned down so much money, which says a bit more about Liam and his desires to want to win a competition and be in what he believes is a good team – it shows he's interested in more than money."
Twelve months ago Knight was preparing to pull on the Souths colours for the first time in the Charity Shield. He had made a big impression over the summer after nine games with the Raiders, but made Bennett turn red with frustration not long after taking the field in Mudgee.
"I gave away a few penalties trying to shoot out of the line – I was offside by about five metres on one occasion and tried to get someone and still missed," Knight said. "Wayne sprayed me at half-time. I think he even threatened to hook me. Hopefully I go a bit better this weekend."
Knight said a conversation with Bennett went a long way to helping him commit to a three-year deal with the Rabbits this month.
"I met with Mal and Justin and the whole crew, I toured their facilities, and while I knew they had had a tough few years [on the field], I could feel there was a shift coming," Knight said. "So it was a stressful couple of weeks [deciding my future].
"I never wanted to leave Souths. Wayne put it back on me, he said, 'I won't tell you what to do, you have to make the decision yourself, be happy with it and don't look back, but I want you to stay'.
South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett after last year’s Charity Shield win.Credit:AAP
"Him wanting me to stay was massive for me."
There is a lot of excitement around Knight who will move to lock forward this year. There is even more excitement in Mudgee where interest from the locals in Latrell Mitchell's fullback switch is expected to lift the crowd to 10,000 for the first time.
Source: Read Full Article