Christian Welch has responded to a Knights fan’s reminder of his comments made in June, jokingly stating that he would join Newcastle’s celebrations if they win the title. These comments came after Welch had questioned how the Knights lost to an understrength Panthers side in Round 17. The Knights went on to start a nine-game winning streak immediately after Welch’s comments, a fact that the fan highlighted during the Telstra Premiership finals launch. Welch joined Tyson Frizell and other NRL captains at the event and both players addressed the cheeky sledge from Welch. Frizell agreed that Welch would be invited to the celebrations in a light-hearted moment on stage.
In response to the fan’s question, Welch acknowledged the Knights‘ success, stating, “If you guys win the premiership, I might have to get invited to the celebration drinks. You’ve won nine in a row since that press conference… you beauty.” Frizell added, “I think it’s great with the fans,” further showing the camaraderie between the players and the fanbase. Welch clarified that he had not intended to be disrespectful to the Knights when he made his initial comments, but was simply surprised by their loss to an understrength Panthers team. He expressed his happiness for the Knights and their success, particularly in regards to their strong ties to the community.
Frizell stated that Welch’s comments were not the motivating factor behind the Knights‘ turnaround in their season, but that they had not gone unnoticed by the playing group. He acknowledged that the comments were seen by the team, but emphasised that their success was a result of hard work and consistently playing good football. Frizell stated, “We’ve been working hard right from the start and playing good footy even at the start of the season despite not getting the results.”
The Knights, who have locked in a home final against the Raiders on Sunday, have the opportunity to win their first finals game since 2013. This marks a significant moment for the team, as Newcastle last hosted a finals match in 2006 against the Sea Eagles. Both Welch and Frizell expressed their hopes for the team’s success in the finals, with Welch jokingly adding that he hopes the Storm and Knights do not cross paths and beat them.