LACHLAN FITZGIBBON is “a pretty proud Novocastrian” – so he is delighted to still feel close to home after moving across the world.
The forward grew up in Newcastle and has spent his whole playing career to date with the Knights, making 119 NRL appearances.
His first move away from the city and the club have taken him all the way to England and Warrington, where he has penned a three-year contract with the Wolves.
And Fitzgibbon sees plenty of similarities between two true Rugby League towns, both proudly working class and built on industry, including steel.
“It’s a pretty proud town. It’s a blue-collar town. It’s a wire town, a steelwork town,” he said of Newcastle.
“It’s a one-club town – there are no real footy sides around it until Sydney – and they love their footy.
“Warrington have one of the best supporter bases in the game and I believe Newcastle is up there with one of the best supporter bases in the game too.
“I found a lot of comparables between the two and that’s what’s made the move so easy for me. I’m loving the town, loving the community.
“And I think it will be even better once I get out in front of the home fans.”
Fitzgibbon said he made the switch to Super League as he couldn’t imagine playing for any other team in Australia except Newcastle.
“I’d been at the Knights for over ten years, from coming through as a junior,” explained the backrower.
“I probably didn’t see myself playing for another NRL club. I’m a pretty proud Novocastrian.
“I just thought for me and my partner, this was probably the perfect time to head overseas for a new challenge.”
At the time of making the decision, Warrington were flying after a winning start to the season, while Newcastle were struggling in the NRL.
In both cases, their fortunes would soon be dramatically reversed, and he admits that “Rugby League is funny”.
But he is now excited by the unexpected opportunity to play under Warrington’s new head coach Sam Burgess, a former NRL opponent.
“When he first came over (to Australia), he was the player everyone aspired to be like,” said Fitzgibbon.
“I got the honour of playing him a few times in the back end of his career and he was always an imposing figure.
“He’s an inspirational leader and an inspirational coach. I’m sure he’ll be successful here.”