Lewie Catt back to league

COMBINED Country rugby union centre Lewie Catt is returning home to rugby league.
Nanjing Night Net

Newcastle Rugby League wooden-spooners Lakes United have pulled off a major coup by securing the 26-year-old’s signature for next season.

As part of the deal, Catt will have the opportunity to train with and trial for the Knights NSW Cup side over the summer.

Catt has developed into one of the most elusive broken-field runners in Newcastle and Hunter rugby.

His performances with Hamilton and then Wanderers earned him a treasured berth in Combined Country’s match against the British and Irish Lions at Hunter Stadium in June – a match in which he lined up against famed Irish centre Brian O’Driscoll.

Despite his rugby career blossoming, the itch to return to league, a sport he left aged 19 in 2007, remained.

‘‘Leaving when I was 19, I just felt I had some unfinished business,’’ Catt said.

‘‘I would still like to play league, but the opportunity just hadn’t come around.

‘‘I got a call a month ago with an opportunity and I’m just going to see how it goes and what can happen from it.’’

The Western Suburbs junior played Harold Matthews and SG Ball for the Knights, but a broken pelvis in a motorbike accident stalled his career.

There are certainly no guarantees about making the Knights NSW Cup side, but Catt is determined to impress coach Rick Stone.

‘‘I know the exposure from the Lions game got Stoney and the NSW Cup looking and I guess it’s a nothing-to-lose scenario,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ll just get in there and put my best foot forward and see what does happen.’’

If the chance to wear red and blue never eventuates, Catt is likely to play a pivotal role in restoring pride in the Lakes jersey.

After a season when they failed to win a game, new coach Dean Noonan is busy restructuring the Belmont-based club.

Catt is Noonan’s first step in bringing more quality to the Seagulls.

‘‘It’s obviously a challenge for him and that’s what he’s looking to do – challenge himself and see if he has those capabilities in league,’’ Noonan said.

‘‘He’s obviously up for a challenge coming to our club.’’

Meanwhile, South Newcastle have replaced outgoing hooker Joe Cudmore with two-time Manly NSW Cup player of the year Liam Higgins, a former Knights junior who represented NSW in the under-18s.

The Lions are also understood to be in advanced talks about club junior Shane Gray returning to Merewether after he made his NRL debut with the Gold Coast Titans this season.

CODE-HOP: Lewie Catt in action for the Wanderers and, inset, after playing against the British and Irish Lions for Combined Country this year.

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