A “devastated” Isaac De Gois has been shown the door by the Newcastle Knights but, as some consolation, will have the new three-year deal he agreed to early in the season honoured by the club even though he never officially signed a contract.
The highly-regarded Newcastle hooker has emerged as the face of change at the Knights under incoming supercoach Wayne Bennett, who is leaving the Dragons at the end of the season.
Considered one of the club’s linchpins by current coach Rick Stone and a popular figure among his teammates, De Gois’s papers have been controversially stamped “surplus to requirements” by Bennett.
“Isaac is devastated and I’m in a state of shock, to be honest,” De Gois’ manager Darryl Mather said yesterday.
“I would have thought he was in the top six players at the club and we had already agreed to a new three- year deal.”
It’s understood Knights officials agreed to terms with De Gois 24 hours before realising a freeze on new signings was in place because of the uncertainty surrounding the ownership of the club.
The freeze had been agreed to by the club’s hierarchy and Nathan Tinkler’s representatives while the ownership negotiation process was taking place back in March.
“Isaac slipped through under the radar,” one source said yesterday. “I’m not sure everyone at the Knights was fully aware at the time the freeze was in place.”
While an official NRL contract was never signed by De Gois, a deal was reached both verbally and via email, according to Mather.
Just where De Gois ends up will be finalised “at any tick of the clock”, according to Mather.
It’s understood his former club Cronulla and one other NRL club are fighting it out for his services.
Newcastle will have to sign off on any new deal.
If he signs for a figure below that of what Newcastle agreed to pay him, the Knights are obligated to make up the difference, money that will still be included in their salary cap next year.