Mantelli hopes magic rubs off on Thunder

Newcastle Thunder coach Mick Mantelli is hoping Super League’s magic weekends at St James’ Park can help spark his club to greater heights.

Thunder play their first home game in this season’s League One against London Skolars on Sunday and Mantelli believes the events could inspire a new generation of players.

“The North East is pretty much untapped for the kids,” he told Chronicle Live.

“Years and years ago if you didn’t play rugby you’d struggle in this code, but I think the mentality has changed a lot.

“There are a lot of kids who get turned away from the football side of it, but they’re athletes and we hope to tap into it.

“When I was at the (Canberra) Raiders we looked at a kid there by the name of Edrick Lee. He was a fantastic basketballer, playing in the Brisbane local comp and we spotted him there just on his athleticism.

“They brought him down to the Raiders and he was an exceptionally strong kid but he’d never done any weights, skilful, and now he’s got 60-something NRL games under his belt with the Raiders and he’s just gone on to sign for Cronulla Sharks.

“We’ve got a lot of people round here with the union and the league and a few contacts with the football and that.

“It doesn’t have to be a kid who’s just got cut from the Newcastle United system, it could just be a kid who wants to have a sport and hasn’t really found it just yet.”

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