Brothers to link up at Knights

HE was showing off some of his cricketing prowess on Sunday but Jake Hawkins’ focus will soon be on football.

The former Farrer star has been signed to play for the Newcastle Knights NSW Cup side.

He’ll head down to Newcastle early next month, where he will join younger half-brother Dylan Manicaros.

Manicaros has also been recruited to the Knights and has been training with the Holden Cup (U20s) squad.

It’s an opportunity Dylan Manicaros never really thought would come his way.

“I didn’t think I’d go anywhere with my footy,” Manicaros said.

Even heading down to Newcastle he wasn’t expecting too much.

“I originally went down for the U19 development squad,” he said.

“We had a trial game before Christmas.”

“I got a call after New Year telling me I’d been called up to the U20s.”

It was beyond his expectations.

“I was not expecting to get that call at all to go to the 20s,” he said.

“To get that call was unreal.”

Also unreal would be getting to play in front of his family and friends when the Knights tackle Canberra in Tamworth on February 22.

The U20s will trial beforethe main game.

“Hopefully I can make the team to play that,” Manicaros said.

At the moment the squad is 25. It will go down to 18 when the season comes around.

Manicaros has been in Newcastle for about six weeks and training six days a week.

“It’s all fitness,” he said.

“They’re really trying to get us fit for when the season starts.”

It’s been a hard slog but he’s soaking it all up. 

Also capable of playing five-eighth, Manicaros said they’re looking at him as a lock.

“That’s where I played all my school footy,” Manicaros said.

And played in the trial games. 

They had one the Friday just past against the Knights’ U18s squad.

That was an interesting experience for Manicaros, pitting him against former Farrer team-mate Zack Leonard, who is also down there.

On Sunday he was watching, and helping out at, the Manilla Sevens, which mum Sonia helped organise and Hawkins was also playing in.

His Manilla Tigers got up to win the day, beating Attunga Red in the final.

Last season Hawkins played the first part of the season with South Newcastle before returning home and linking up with North Tamworth, where he got to play with his younger brother.

“I was also going back down,” Hawkins said.

“I signed with Lakes United originally but then I got a call to go back down to the Knights from Rick Stone and Peter Mullholland.”

He’ll start pre-season training with them next month.

It’s meant he’s had to do a bit of training himself to keep fit but he’s been able to get down to Newcastle a handful of times.

He can also play a couple of positions – either hooker or lock. Hooker is his preferred.

After stints with Melbourne, Cronulla and St George, Hawkins is excited about getting  another crack with an NRL club. 

“To get that opportunity back again, I look forward to it more so,” Hawkins said.

Especially now too that he’s a new dad.

He has played NSW Cup at every club he’s been and said the standard was getting better.

“You’re playing against more first graders now than when I first started,” he said.

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