Gateshead have been given a boost ahead of their clash with Sheffield on Thursday with the news Michael Knowles has signed a new deal.
Knowles, 22, has signed a new two-year deal to keep him at the club until the end of 2011.
The second-rower arrived in the North East on loan from Castleford in July 2007, before signing a permanent two-year deal with Thunder for the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Knowles said: “I am really pleased to be staying at Gateshead. I live in Gateshead and I am settled in the area and at the club and I didn’t want to move away. I am delighted that the club wanted me to stay for another 2 years.
I can see that the club is moving forward – on and off the pitch – and I want to be part of a successful Gateshead Thunder. I think with the players we have we can be a force in the Championship. I want to play my part in the club’s development and in hopefully pushing for a Super League spot.”
Knowles has racked up 168 points for Thunder this season – 6 tries and 72 goals – and played a big part in the club’s promotion to the Championship last season.
Thunder Chief Executive, Rod Findlay, said: “We’re really pleased that Michael wanted to stay with us and it didn’t take too long to reach an agreement once we started talking with Michael and his agent, Ron Hill. Michael has been in impressive form this season and just gets on and does his job – on and off the pitch – without any dramas.
“It’s a real boost for the club when a player of Michael’s calibre wants to stay with the club as I know other clubs have approached him. But he’s a loyal person and his family come to every game home and away. He’s popular with the fans and we get really good feedback from his community work.
“The club’s owners, Steve and Sarah Garside, are very forward thinking and have backed the Head Coach, Steve McCormack, to allow him to start building his 2010 squad with a view to pushing for honours next season.”
Thunder are already planning for 2010 and Knowles joins a number of players who are already committed to Thunder in 2010. Andrew Henderson, Dylan Nash, Nick Youngquest, Kris Kahler, Paul Franze, and Russ Aitken each signed for 2009 and 2010 when joining the club. Academy product Rhys Clarke also recently extended his stay until the end of 2010.