GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MAY 25: Jacob Lillyman keeps his eye on the ball during a Queensland Maroons State of Origin training session at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort Training Field on May 25, 2017 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The Newcastle Knights have signed experienced forward Jacob Lillyman for season 2018.

The 33-year-old has signed a one-year contract.

Lillyman made his NRL debut playing for the North Queensland Cowboys, against the Knights, in 2003. He played 62 NRL games before linking with the New Zealand Warriors in 2009, where he made a further 189 NRL appearances.

In addition, Lillyman has played 14 Origin matches for Queensland.

“Newcastle is a good young team on the up and I’m really looking forward to getting over there and getting stuck in,” said Lillyman.

“I think the Knights have got some great young players, especially in the forwards, and I am keen to help them in their development.

“Newcastle is a very proud rugby league region and town and I can’t wait to experience that first hand.”

General Manager Football Darren Mooney said Lillyman’s experience will be a great asset to the Club.

“Jacob has plenty of experience and he will not only be a great contributor, but will provide wonderful leadership for our young squad,” Mooney said.

Lillyman will commence pre-season training with the Club in November.

Newcastle Knights 2018 Player Movements

2018 Gains
JJ Collins (Wests Tigers, 2020), Herman Ese'ese (Brisbane Broncos, 2020), Slade Griffin (Melbourne Storm, 2019), Aidan Guerra (Sydney Roosters, 2020), Christian Hazard (2018), Chris Heighington (Cronulla Sharks, 2018), Jack Johns (2018), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Sydney Roosters, 2019), Jacob Lillyman (New Zealand Warriors, 2018), Tautau Moga (Brisbane Broncos, 2020), Brent Naden (Canberra Raiders, 2018), Mitchell Pearce (Sydney Roosters, 2021), Kalyn Ponga (North Queensland Cowboys, 2021), Connor Watson (Sydney Roosters, 2020)
2018 Losses
David Bhana (released), Brendan Elliot (Gold Coast Titans), Jaelen Feeney (released), Dane Gagai (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Jacob Gagan (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Trent Hodkinson (Cronulla Sharks), Rory Kostjasyn (retired), Peter Mata'utia (Leigh Centurions), Sam Mataora (retired), Jarrod Mullen (released), Mickey Paea (Hull FC), Pauli Pauli (Wakefield Trinity), Will Pearsall (released), Tyler Randell (Wakefield Trinity), Josh Starling (retired), Jack Stockwell (Gold Coast Titans), Anthony Tupou (retired), Joe Wardle (Huddersfield Giants)
Tyrone Amey (2018), Mitch Barnett (2020), Lachlan Fitzgibbon (2021), Tom Hughes (2018), Jack Johns (2018), Danny Levi (2020), Nick Meaney (2021), Dylan Phythian (2018), Nathan Ross (2019), Daniel Saifiti (2020), Jacob Saifiti (2020), Tom Starling (2018), Sam Stone (2020), Luke Yates (2019)
Off Contract 2019
Jamie Buhrer, Slade Griffin, Hymel Hunt, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Zac Woolford
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  1. Knights wont be finishing bottom 4 thats for sure.

    1 Ponga
    2 Ross
    3 Kenny-Dowall
    4 Moga
    5 Sio
    6 Watson
    7 Lamb
    8 D Saifiti
    9 Levi
    10 Lilyman
    11 Mata’utia
    12 Fitzgibbon
    13 Barnett

    14 Buhrer
    15 Guerra
    16 J Saifiti
    17 Essese

    Thats a great team, will only get better with age. Young spine.

    • I am a fan of Watson but I have to agree with bigredv on this. Both Lamb and Watson are good young halves but the experience of Hodkinson partnering one of the two would be a better combination IMO. Both Watson and Lamb can learn a lot from a player of his experience who can help to steady the ship when the Knights are under pressure.

      I remember a few games (one in particular) this year when Lamb folded under the pressure of the moment. Not a criticism, it is to be expected when younger, less experienced players are thrust into these situations. As well as Nathan Cleary is travelling, I think his game would go up several gears if he was partnered with Maloney for example.

      Watson at least provides utility value and impact off the bench while Lamb is more suited to a fixed role and will not have the impact of Watson off the bench. Levi is a good young kid who is still developing but I think the Knights looked more in control when Jamie Buhrer was playing at dummy half. I think the Knights have other options for edge back rowers and your lineup (above) is dependent upon a rookie spine. Which is never a good idea.

      • Hodkinson is done. His knee is shot and he can barely bend his legs when running, this leaves him a massive liability in defence at times. His kicking game has also deteriorated greatly at the Knights. There was a reason he was dropped. I won’t be surprised if he’s in England before the start of the season.

        • “His knee is shot and he can barely bend his legs when running”

          If true, then I get your point. A lame duck in the halves is a liability. For the same reason I would prefer Inglis to move to the centres as his dodgy knees are more of a liability at FB. The point though is still valid. Pair a more experienced half with a younger player, i.e. Michael Morgan and Te Maire Martin (Cowboys) vs Nathan Cleary and Te Maire Martin (Panthers). Luke Brooks and Tui Lolohea are another example of a pairing that will struggle IMO (not least of all because Brooks is vastly overrated, due to the hype that Joey Johns threw on him earlier in his career).

  2. 1. Ponga
    2. Sio
    3. Moga
    4. Kenny-Dowell
    5. Ross
    6. Watson
    7. Hodkinson
    8. Lillyman
    9. Levi
    10. D Saifiti
    11. Guerra
    12. S Matautia
    13. Barnett

    14. Griffin
    15. Ese’ese
    16. J Saifiti
    17. Burher

    18. Lamb
    19. Fitzgibbon
    20. C Matautia

    Probably just need one more cheap back (centre). A lot better on paper but still going to take time before we see results. Ponga Watson Levi Saifiti brothers Matautia brothers Ese’ese all still young. Do like what they are building but don’t expect much to much better.

    • 6. Watson
      7. Hodkinson

      Bingo. That would be my preferred combination but as I posted above I don’t see the value of Lamb off the bone… off the bench (sorry too close to dinner!) I think he is a good developing young player but to quote the old Highlander movie, “There can be only one!” 😉

      • Agreed. If Hodkinson can get through another season the younger halves will benefit immensley. And you are right about 2 young halves, it rarely works out, a reason Penrith and Maloney will be a great fit.

    • Watson is so young and exciting a great runner and Hodkinson will bring the exeperiance and a great kicking game. Just what you want from your two halves. Lamb is an alright young player. But he is more similar to Hodkinson with no running game and more of a kicking game I think Lamb would be better suited to playing back up at the Sharks or Eels

      • Who will Knights go after to replace Hodko in 2019? I think Hodko has one good year left, his knee really hampered him at times this season, he cant run. His support play is therefore non existent.

        • His value will be what he can teach his young halves partner “in game” and help bring stability when the Knights are under the pump. Watson will definitely benefit from this (as will Ponga). If, as Josh posted above, Hodkinson knee is gone and he is a lame duck then that makes him too great a liability. If the extent of this injury is not as serious then he would still provide value IMO. At least with Hodkinson and Burher in the Knights spine to provide some experience, direction and structure this will free up Ponga and Watson to explore and display their create potential… IMO.

        • SSTID , did you know Hodgo stats are better than DCE ! And the Ross dog has better running meters than turbo , wow

        • 2019 is still two years away and I guess they hope Lamb would have stepped up abit to replace Hodko by then. Me presonally don’t see Lamb improving very much and only see Hodko just limping into 2019. But then again in 2019 Matautia Fitzgibbion Saifiti bro’s Ese’ese And Barnett would have all massively improved and Hodko Burher Yates and Stone all having expiring contracts which gives some play to sign a good half to pair with Ponga Watson Levi Matautia and co all in their prime.

  3. Watson has to be starting 6 surely, and knights have too many backrower.
    All wold prob be wanting and thinking they should start but can’t. They light up front I think

    • Yeah Watson should be 6. And they do have alot of backrowers, Buhrer can play 9, and Barnett will be 13.

      • But buhrer is a right edge, good hole running tough tackling player, he can fill in at 9 but that’s it. Levi is doing good and griffin should be getting a go there somewhere. I think griffin should start then Levi on after 25-30 griffin then to lock. I would have buhrer Fitzgibbon then Barnett as starting backrow/ lock Sione back to centres

        • Actually since I read Lewis brown been told he can look elsewhere, I would love buhrer to come back home, put him on left edge backrow, and winterstein back to bench, and then we have our utility again and can carry 4 forwards on the bench.
          Buhrer should never of been aloud to leave

        • You’re thinking of Buhrer at Manly in their system crowy. When he filled in at 9 for the Knights this year they played more direct and his experience helped the Knights find direction. Aidan Guerra, Mitch Barnett, Sione Mata’utia, Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Sam Stone have second row spots covered and Buhrer is a player the Knights NEED for 80 mins each game, Q.E.D. hooker.

    • Just what I read, don’t mean he leaving, cause really who taking him?? Hoping he goes soon though. The guys alright, his best position is backrow but he ain’t big enough and there just too many bavkrowers around now

    • Wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up back at my Woe-full Warriors again considering we just sacked Hoffman and Thompson and have only signed Tohu Harris. We love getting terrible ex-kiwi internationals. Also we cleared Matalino Gubb Lillyman and Vete and signed a overpriced and past it Adam Blair and Leviaha Pulu.
      We are terrible on and off the feild.
      Wouldn’t be surprised if we swap you a back (Maumaolo) for him. Considering he played his best year this year and your club is abit thin on young wingers. That’s the Warriors for ya

    • In fairness
      8. Blair
      9. Luke
      10. Gavet
      11. Brown
      12. Harris
      13. Mannering

      15. Pulu
      16. Afoa
      17. Lisone

      Isn’t a terrible forward pack just abit washed up

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