A good Knight for All Star Waddell

A good Knight for All Star Waddell

Discarded Canberra Raiders hooker Travis Waddell is set to resurrect his NRL career at Newcastle after his surprise selection in the Indigenous All Stars squad on Wednesday.

Cut by the Raiders at the end of last season, the 23-year-old has spent the last few months training with Queensland Cup side Souths-Logan, and working eight-hour days at a steel company.

Joel Thompson and Travis Waddell are in the Indigenous All Stars team again.

Joel Thompson and Travis Waddell are in the Indigenous All Stars team again.

Photo: NRL Photos

But Fairfax Media understands Waddell will ink a deal with the Knights, and will travel to Newcastle to meet players and officials early next week.

As starting hooker Waddell will be looking to help the Indigenous side beat Wayne Bennett's NRL All Stars, giving him an ideal opportunity to impress the Knights super coach.

Jack Wighton is a coach's selection.

Jack Wighton is a coach's selection.

Photo: Melissa Adams

Waddell is the first NRL non-contracted player to be selected for the All Stars game in its four-year history.

Fairfax Media revealed in September Waddell was likely to receive a lifeline from the Knights, as the club had been looking for an experienced rake to deputise for first choice No.9 Danny Buderus.

It is believed Waddell's contract will be a second-tier deal outside the Knights' top-25 contracted players.

The Raiders boast the strongest representation of any club in the Indigenous All Stars squad, with five players in Laurie Daley's side for the February 9 clash at Suncorp Stadium.

Reece Robinson and Blake Ferguson have snared the wing spots, with Joel Thompson to start in the second row.

As predicted last week, Bulldogs recruit Jake Foster and young gun Jack Wighton both earned spots on the bench, despite playing just 19 NRL games between them.

Raiders prop David Shillington, the club's NRL All Stars representative who will start from the bench, has no doubt Waddell still has plenty to offer at the top level. He said the All Stars call-up could be just the injection of confidence Waddell needs to breathe life into his career.

''I rate 'Travvy', I reckon he's a great hooker,'' Shillington said. ''He's incredibly tough defensively, and revs up the big forwards and gets them going forward.

''He probably suffered previously as well because I think they [Canberra] tried to offload him the year before after a quiet year, and he never really recovered from that.

''He played great when he played for us last year, and if he gets picked up by somebody he'll be pretty invaluable for them. It won't be wasted money.''

Shillington played the first All Stars match in 2010, and won back his place from the Raiders' Josh Dugan, who played the past two years.

In an interesting quirk, Robinson received the call-up only after his cousin, Souths flyer Nathan Merritt, was ruled out through injury.

While 17 players are voted in by fans, Wighton was one of Daley's three discretionary picks on the seven-man bench.


''I've got massive raps on Jack and I'm not the only one - [he] can play anywhere in the back line,'' Shillington said. ''Some outside backs shy away from defence and look for the flashy try-scoring play but Jack just throws his body at the line.''

''It will be interesting to see where 'Furnsey' [Raiders coach David Furner] plays him next year.''

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