Newcastle recruit teenage Warriors utility
BY BRETT KEEBLE
THE Newcastle Knights have signed 18-year-old New Zealand Warriors utility forward Constantine Mika until the end of 2010.
Mika, who has been playing in the Warriors' National Youth Competition team this year, played in their 30-18 victory over the Knights in NYC at Mt Smart Stadium on April 6.
He arrived in Newcastle this week and met some of his new teammates when he trained with the Knights senior squad yesterday.
Knights operations manager Warren Smiles said the Warriors' release was conditional on Mika not playing in the NRL or NYC this season.
That means the 183 centimetre, 105 kilogram former New Zealand junior international will be confined to showing his wares in the NSW Cup for the rest of this year but will be unrestricted from next year.
Mika represented New Zealand under 18s last year, the Junior Kiwis in 2006 and the New Zealand under 16s in 2005.
He hails from the Otahuhu Leopards the same junior club as Knights winger Cooper Vuna, former Knights centre George Carmont and veteran Kiwi pack leader Ruben Wiki.
"He's a bit like Cooper. We're bringing him out here to get to know how to become a professional player," Knights coach Brian Smith said. 'We'll get the most out of him next season after he's had a full pre-season. He's got nice skills, a good pass, a chunky build."
Smiles described Mika as a powerfully built back-rower who could play in the centres "or even push up into the front row at a pinch".
He said the Warriors had released Mika back to their NSW Cup side, the Auckland Vulcans, "but he was treading water a bit so they were happy to give him a clearance to let him come here".
Educated at De La Salle College in Auckland, Mika played 18 games for the Auckland Lions in Premier League (now NSW Cup) last year.
The Central Newcastle Knights have a bye in NSW Cup this weekend so he will have to wait until May 31 to make his first appearance in Newcastle colours.
The Knights play the Warriors in NRL and NYC at EnergyAustralia Stadium that night, but Central Newcastle play Manly in a NSW Cup curtain-raiser.