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Purcell in his time at Newcastle. Photo: NRL Imagery

It took just one phone call from Tweed Seagulls coach Dave Penna to convince Newcastle forward Jaron Purcell to come to the Hostplus Cup in 2023.

Purcell had been at the Newcastle Knights for seven years, coming through their development systems since he was 15.

And - with a number of forwards exiting Tweed at the end of the 2022 season, including Josh Patston, JJ Collins, Harrison Muller and Reuben Porter – the 22-year-old became a target for the club.

“My manager gave me a ring one day and said Tweed were interested in me,” Purcell said.

“I spoke to Dave Penna and talking to him on the phone, I could tell we had the same values. The way we talked about how Tweed were going to play footy this year, it really interested me and it was something I wanted to be part of.

“It was a different opportunity… I knew it would be good to get out of my local area and broaden my horizons.

“He spoke to me about how he values hard work and he’s a defensive-minded coach and that’s something I really valued.

“On the attacking side, he said he’s just going to let us play footy and that’s one of my assets, is being able to ball play in the middle. Having that free flowing footy is something I know I will enjoy.”

Purcell in his time at Newcastle. Photo: NRL Imagery
Purcell in his time at Newcastle. Photo: NRL Imagery

As a Newcastle fan as a child, it wasn’t easy for Purcell to walk away from the club that helped develop him over the years. He still remembers how special it was to pull on the jersey as a junior. But he also knew that it was time to move on.

“I really enjoyed my time there but I needed something different,” he said.

“Being there for so long, you can fall into the same habits. For me and for my footy to progress, I needed a change of scenery.”

And that change of scenery has been treating Purcell well.

Not only does he have his sights set on a big year with Tweed, but he also enjoyed a train-and-trial opportunity with the Gold Coast Titans in the pre-season.

Being able to pick the brains of more experienced players has only helped Purcell in his preparations for the Hostplus Cup.

“It was a really good experience and I loved my time up there,” he said.

“I learnt a lot off the coaching staff and the players too. It was the first time I sort of picked the senior boys’ minds a bit, trying to get tips off them.

“I didn’t do it too much in Newcastle but this year I was proactive in trying to learn and give myself the best opportunity.

“I got a little bit from everyone but I enjoyed speaking to Tino (Fa'asuamaleaui). Obviously the calibre of player that he is - having represented his country - speaking to him and seeing the way he viewed footy, that was something I really admired.

“Kieran Foran too, it was interesting to see the way he views the game and to watch videos with him and listen to what he sees. I was picking up tips from everyone but they were the main two.”

Purcell  - who has been named at lock for Tweed’s Round 1 clash with Central Queensland - is one of only four new signings for Tweed, who have also picked up former Norths forward Lloyd Perrett.

He sees a good mix among the squad, with plenty of experience balancing out the youth.

And he can also see exactly what Penna promised him in that first phone call.

In two trials against the Burleigh Bears, Tweed failed to come away with the win on both occasions, going down 20-16 and 18-10 in two extremely close hit outs.

But what they did walk away with was plenty of confidence for season 2023.

“Those trials against Burleigh, we took a lot of confidence out of it,” he said.

“The expectations and standards that the coaching staff put on us at training, but also the standard the boys hold themselves to, that’s some of the first things I noticed at Tweed.

“For myself, I want to have a consistent year, play the brand of footy that I know I can.

“I think we can have a very successful season. We took a lot of positive signs out of those trials and we were tough to handle, so if we can put 80 minutes together, we can a long way this year.”

Tweed Seagulls 2023 gains and losses


Jacob McCudden (Central Coast Rugby League), Ryan Jones (Parramatta Eels), Lloyd Perrett (Norths Devils), Jaron Purcell (Newcastle Knights)


JJ Collins (Dolphins NRL), Juwan Compain (Canberra Raiders), Scott Galeano (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Craig Garvey (released), Jaline Graham (Southport Tigers), Matt Koellner (Burleigh Bears), Rei Rei Marsh (released), Harrison Muller (Norths Devils), Charlie Murray (Brisbane Tigers), Joshua Patston (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Reuben Porter (released)

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Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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