Why NRL prodigy rejected $500k offer

Liam Knight, the Rabbitohs’ breakout star of 2019, could have been playing for the Titans this season if not for a brief chat with Wayne Bennett that convinced him to reject their $500,000 offer.

The 25-year-old forward, who has been considered an outside shot at playing Origin this year, had met with new Gold Coast coach Justin Holbrook and been given a tour of their facilities.

The Titans were so keen on luring Knight to the glitter strip that they would have even countenanced letting Jai Arrow head the other way to Redfern a year early from his contract.

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“We wanted him, he’s a different beast,” Titans culture boss Mal Meninga told The Sydney Morning Herald of Knight.

“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.”

Liam Knight has been a man in demand.Source:News Corp Australia

Knight was outstanding as the Bunnies went within one game of reaching the grand final last year, leading from the front with Burgess carrying a debilitating shoulder injury that would eventually force his retirement.

And Burgess has lauded Knight’s decision to stay loyal, the powerful prop signing a three-year contract extension earlier this month on much less money than the Titans offer.

“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.”

But it was ultimately after a sit-down with Bennett when Knight realised where his future lay.

“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’.

Wayne Bennett was pivotal in convincing Liam Knight to stay at Souths.Source:AAP

“Him wanting me to stay was massive for me.”

The tone of that conversation was a far cry from one he had with Bennett when he made his Souths debut last year in the Charity Shield game against the Dragons in Mudgee.

“I gave away a few penalties trying to shoot out of the line — I was off-side by about five metres on one occasion and tried to get someone and still missed,” Knight said. “Wayne sprayed me at halftime. I think he even threatened to hook me. Hopefully I go a bit better this weekend.”

Originally published asWhy NRL prodigy rejected $500k offer

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