PHOTOS: Stars in their eyes

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Nanjing Night Net

SOME of the greatest footballers to lace up a boot in Newcastle have played on the turf of Kentish, Ford and Harker ovals in Western Suburbs colours.

Names like Johnny Raper, John Cootes and Allan Buman are all part of Rosellas folklore.

In more recent decades brothers Matt and Kurt Gidley have started their careers in red and green before eventually representing the Knights, NSW and Australia.

As the Knights prepare for their biggest match in a decade on Saturday night in the preliminaryfinal against the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium, former Wests juniors Jarrod Mullen and Tyrone Roberts took time yesterday to talk with the stars of the future from the Rosellas.

‘‘Wests is one of the strongest clubs in the state and Australia,’’ Mullen said. ‘‘It’s a good breeding ground for future NRL players.

‘‘They’ve always been strong through the grades and hopefully these guys will go through the grades and play the big time one day.’’

Mullen first played at Wests in the under-10s, a year younger than Rosellas juniors Tyran Duffield and Tyler Moodie whom he met yesterday, along with some of their teammates.

The year 5 students also attend the same school as Mullen did – St Therese’s Catholic Primary School at New Lambton.

Tyran wants to play for the Knights one day and said Mullen was his favourite player because ‘‘he sets people up and is good at passing and drawing’’.

‘‘I think we’re going to go pretty good against the Roosters,’’ he added.

Tyler is the son of former Rosellas, Knights and Parramatta winger Jason Moodie, the coach of the Wests under-11s.

Jarrod Mullen and Tyrone Roberts with Western Suburbs juniors.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Knights training at Mayfield on Wednesday.

Tyler said he was most excited about the prospect of hooker Danny Buderus finishing his stellar career with a premiership.

‘‘Danny Buderus is my favourite player because he played with and against my dad,’’ Tyler said.

The Knights and Rosellas have always held close links and that relationship became official earlier this month when the NRL’s all-in-one club headquarters were opened at Mayfield Balance, which is owned by Wests.

The Knights will also be hoping the Rosellas’ 21-8 win against Kurri Kurri in the Newcastle Rugby League first-grade grand final on Sunday is a good omen for Saturday night.

‘‘It was good to see Wests win the grand final the other day,’’ Mullen said.

Roberts, who injured his right knee in the final minutes of last Saturday’s semi-final win over the Melbourne Storm, is still on track to line up against the Roosters this Saturday.

The livewire halfback completed a solid training session at Mayfield yesterday morning, watched by at least 200 supporters.

The Knights held an open training session for their last run in Newcastle before the grand final qualifier.

‘‘James McManus is still in doubt, but outside of him, everyone is good,’’ coach Wayne Bennett said.

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