The Newcastle Knights will step up their pursuit of St George Illawarra Dragons front-rower Adam Cuthbertson because of Antonio Kaufusi’s decision to sign a three-year deal with Super League’s London Harlequins.
Kaufusi was contracted to Newcastle until the end of next year but was told in May that he would be allowed to leave at the end of this season if he could find another club and those arrangements were settled on Thursday when the Harlequins said he was London-bound.
The Knights have been linked to Cuthbertson since mid-season and the 26-year-old former Manly and Cronulla ball player has made no secret of his desire to continue his career under his Dragons mentor, Wayne Bennett, at the Knights next year.
Newcastle officials have held preliminary discussions with Cuthbertson’s manager, Andrew Purcell, with a view to signing him to a two-year contract.
The loss of Kaufusi, Cory Paterson (Cowboys), Mark Taufua (Sharks) and Cameron Ciraldo (Panthers) has diluted the club’s forward stocks, so a player such as Cuthbertson, who has consistently played to his potential under Bennett this year, would be a welcome addition.
Purcell told The Sun-Herald last month that Cuthbertson had not ruled out staying at the Dragons but had turned his career around under Bennett. Cuthbertson has made it clear he wants his next deal to be for more than one year, the tenure of his stays at the Sharks and Dragons.
Back-rower Marvin Filipo has re-signed for another year on a second-tier contract and Gidley said the acquisition of Dragons centre or back-rower Alex McKinnon (three years) and Storm prop Robbie Rochow (one) underlined their intent to bring back Hunter products.