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Raiders replace Wighton with Sea Eagles rising star, Knights boost utility value and another Bulldog exits in kennel clean-out

25th October, 2023
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25th October, 2023
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Canberra have taken the first step towards life after Jack Wighton by confirming the signing of Kaeo Weekes on a two-year deal.

Weekes, who joins from Manly, has been viewed as an option to fill the void at five-eighth by Wighton’s exit.

Wighton, who has played all of his 242-game NRL career at Canberra, made the shock decision to leave the Raiders earlier this year to link up with South Sydney.

Weekes has played at fullback and in the No.6 for Manly across 12 games and will compete with rookie Ethan Strange to partner Jamal Fogarty in the halves at Canberra.

“I think it’s a great opportunity in front of me and I’m looking forward to moving away from home, knuckling down on footy and getting ready for the next challenge in my career,” Weekes said.

“I can play a few positions, but for me it’s really trying to prove myself and find a place in the team week in week out.

“I’m looking to come in with determination to cement a full-time position in the team.”

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Newcastle have re-signed Crossland, who firms as the Knights’ bench utility in 2024.

The 23-year-old was parachuted into dummy-half for the majority of 2023 after co-captain Jayden Brailey suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Crossland enjoyed a breakout campaign in his new position as the Knights charged to the second week of the finals.

Coach Adam O’Brien previously told AAP Crossland was likely to fill the void left by the departing ‘Mr Fix-It’ Kurt Mann once Brailey returns to the starting side.

“Phoenix has shown he has all the attributes to be a major contributor to the club’s future success and we are excited about what he can achieve,” Newcastle football boss Peter Parr said.

Meanwhile, Corey Waddell has left Canterbury amid their ongoing rebuild and will return to Manly on a one-year deal.

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The 27-year-old forward made his NRL debut with the Sea Eagles in 2019 and played 36 of his 95 first-grade games there.

He joined the Bulldogs in 2021 to reunite with then-coach Trent Barrett, who mentored him in Penrith’s junior system.

Waddell typically starts in the second row but coach Anthony Seibold indicated he could be used in the middle, with Josh Schuster and Haumole Okalau’atu unlikely to be ousted from the edges next season.

“The thing that interested me in Corey is his work ethic,” said Seibold.

“He is a very hard worker. He adds a different sort of dimension to the middle forwards that we have already got.”

Waddell joins Paul Alamoti, Jake Averillo, Kyle Flanagan, Jayden Okunbor, Franklin Pele and Luke Thompson in leaving Canterbury as part of a post-season clean-out.

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Canterbury also announced rookie winger Blake Wilson had put pen to paper on a contract which runs until the end of 2025.

© AAP

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