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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Josh Leeson

Bryan Fletcher ready for warmer Novocastrian reception at charity lunch

Nathan Hindmarsh and Bryan Fletcher are bringing their irrelevant humour to Belmont 16s on Thursday. Picture supplied

BRYAN Fletcher's most vivid memories of Newcastle during his 170-game NRL career is being a victim of Matthew and Andrew Johns trickery on, and off, the field.

Whether he was playing with the Sydney Roosters or the South Sydney Rabbitohs, games at the old Marathon Stadium, now McDonald Jones, was never a pleasant experience.

"Whoever it was would wet the dressing rooms," Fletcher said. "I later found out it was Matthew and Andrew [Johns].

"They'd soak the change rooms when they were playing and then passed the baton on. The old Marathon Stadium, it was quite wet in there.

"You'd take your shoes off and they had that fake grass in there that would hold all the water. It was pretty ordinary."

Fletcher is hoping for a warmer response from Novocastrians on Thursday when he and his Fox Sports sparring partner, Parramatta legend Nathan Hindmarsh, are the guests of a charity lunch at Belmont 16s.

Lunch with Fletch & Hindy will be hosted by comedian Justin Karcher and is raising money for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.

Fletcher and Hindmarsh have reinvented themselves over the past decade as a comedic duo on Fox Sports' popular program The Late Show with Matty Johns, hosted by the Knights legend and also featuring former Broncos firebrand Gordon Tallis.

"What you see is how we get along," Fletcher said. "It makes it lot easier when we're all mates - Gordie, myself, Hindy and Matty.

"It's just sitting around and having a chat, which is exactly what people would do at a barbecue or a pub.

"It's what resonates with the viewers, us sitting there taking the piss out of each other."

The foursome are preparing to fly out to Las Vegas next month on a seven-day "reconnaissance mission" for Fox Sports before the NRL hosts its historic season-opening double-header at the gambling mecca's Allegiant Stadium in March.

Bryan Fletcher playing against his Late Show with Matty Johns colleague Gordon Tallis in the 2000 NRL Grand Final. Picture file

"I reckon next year might be a little tough because it's brand new," Fletcher said of the success of the NRL's first US games. "The joint sits 70 [thousand], I think they might get 40,000, which would be good.

"They've signed for five years, so I imagine it'll get bigger. I know a lot of people who are going over from Australia."

Fletcher is predicting the Knights to again feature in the NRL play-offs in 2024, following on from their Kalyn Ponga-inspired late-season surge.

"It's like everything, you need your best players on the field," he said.

"[Jayden] Brailey is coming back, Kalyn [Ponga] and Jackson Hastings need a good off-season, but I've definitely got Newcastle in the eight."

Fletcher also commended the signing of half Jack Cogger from Penrith and believes Phoenix Crossland could reinvent himself as a lock to accommodate Brailey back at hooker.

"There's no Kurt Mann now, so maybe Crossland can fill that role or he could even play 13," he said.

"It was good putting him [Crossland] in the middle. When you're a half you don't really appreciate what goes on in the middle.

"You can sit on the edge, and those halves bark orders. It was good for him and he certainly aimed up. After Kalyn [Ponga], I reckon he was the Knights' next-best player."

Lunch With Fletch & Hindy runs from 12pm to 3pm on Thursday at Belmont 16s.

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