Levi won’t be leaving Knights any time soon

DANNY Levi insists he has no plans to leave the Newcastle Knights and wants to play hisrole in the club’s long-awaited resurgence.

FIGHTING FIT: Danny Levi has been training tirelessly as he strives to secure the Newcastle No.9 jersey at the start of next season. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Levi, the 23-year-old Kiwi international hooker, has been bemused by reports that he was considering a move to either Wests Tigers or Parramatta, and that the Knights were willing to release him from the final two years of his contract.

After receiving reassurances from Newcastle officials that his services were required, he has been training tirelessly in a bid to retain the No.9 jersey he wore in the final eight games last season.

“I’ve seen that type of [speculation] but I’ve never really listened to it,” Levi told the Newcastle Herald.

“I know what’s going on, and the coaches have told me what they want.

“So I just blockit out and get on with it.

“I’ve seen the type of side we’ve got here for next season and I really want to be a part of it.

“I believe it’s a team that can definitely do really well.”

One of only four players remaining from Newcastle’s 2015 campaign, Levi collected three wooden spoons inhis first three NRL seasons.

He was not surprisingly eager to play dummy-half behind the go-forward new signings David Klemmer, Tim Glasby and James Gavet should help provide.

“This is probably the biggest forward pack I’ve ever been behind, which as a hooker is exciting,” he said.

“Three wooden spoons –years like that are always tough, but I think this season we’re capable of playing finals football and I’m really keen to achieve that.”

Levi started 2018behind former Melbourne grand final winner Slade Griffin, and at one stage becameso frustrated he requested, unsuccessfully,a mid-season release.

A season-ending knee reconstruction for Griffin left Levi as Newcastle’s No.9, a role he is expected to share next year with versatile ex-Dragon Kurt Mann.

“I know I’ve got a lot of improvement in me,” he said.

“I’m still only young and learning is part of the journey. Last year it was unfortunate the way I got the jersey, because Slade was playing awesome footy. But when opportunities come, you have to take them with both hands. This year I want to really earn that jersey by putting my best foot forward.”

After off-season surgery to repair a disc in his back, Levi hopes to start next season in the best physical shape of his career, saying training had been “tough but enjoyable”.

“I think I’ve got to strengthen up around my core, but I’ve been working hard with our physios on that,” he said.

“I’m pretty much feeling stronger than ever.”

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