Tradie gets shot at bigtime with Knights

Jimmy Fawcett KnightsOnly a few years back, Jimmy Fawcett was laying tiles for a living and wasn’t even able to play with his beloved Umina Bunnies.

Now all of a sudden the Central Coast tradie is training with Newcastle Knights, after being offered a contract that most only dream about.

A 20-year-old Central Coast junior, Fawcett now has a 2-year deal with the Knights and says he still thinks it’s all a dream as he trains with Newcastles best each week.

“Big shock, big shock,” he said. “Even now, I’m training with guys like Ben Cross and I’m just pinching myself.

“I’m just thinking ‘What am I doing here?’ I’d be happy watching them train, let alone training with them.

“It’s just out of this world.”

Fawcett’s achievement is even more notable when you consider two years of his career were virtually written off after suffering the injury all footballers dread a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.

“I was only playing club footy, so I had to get the reconstruction done on public health,” he said. “I was waiting 18 months to get the op done, and then I did physio every day for five months to get back and play last season.

“I was pretty much out for two years, but the good thing is I’ve had no problems with my knee since.”

When he finally returned to action for Umina, Fawcett figured the closest he would ever get to NRL football was watching it on TV.

“I knew I was going to play footy again, but not at this level,” he said. “I thought I was destined to just be a club footballer and play local first grade. That’s pretty much what I had my mind set on.”

The stringbean fullback, who stands 191 centimetres and weighs 89 kilograms, may have been out of sight, but he was far from out of mind.

Bulldogs recruitment officer Keith Onslow, who lives on the Central Coast, was well aware of his potential and brought him to Belmore for the first season of the National Youth Competition in 2008.

Onslow then joined the Knights and had no hesitation in recommending Fawcett to head coach Brian Smith, who was quickly sold 15 tries in 20 NYC games for the Dogs underlined Fawcett’s credentials.

“Keith said, ‘He’s your sort of player. You’ll like coaching him,’ ” Smith said.

“We watched him a bit on video and knew he could score a try. He can run. He’s got a really good motor and pretty good support play.

“He’s a bit green, but he’ll get some intense coaching, and he’s got a great role model in Kurt Gidley.

“The world’s his oyster, that boy, because he’s prepared to do anything. He’s just so dedicated.”

Fawcett is realistic about his prospects of top-grade action in 2009 but hopes opportunity might come knocking when Gidley has representative duties.

“Hopefully I can get a game in first grade,” he said. “I guess I just have to take my chances and rip in at training. If I don’t play first grade this year, I’m not going to be disappointed.

“I’ve still got a year up my sleeve and I just want to learn and develop as much as I can. My chances will probably be limited, but I’m not just a fullback, I can play outside backs if they need me.”

Smith said Fawcett’s rise was a “bloody miracle” but warned he would need to bulk up to become a genuine first-grade option.

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