Mitchell Barnett has caught the attention of the Rugby League world for all the right reasons after putting in a man of the match performance for the Newcastle Knights against the New Zealand Warriors this past weekend.
The second-rower would prove near unstoppable in the fixture taking 15 hit ups, making 36 tackles, gaining 121 running metres and 43.7 post contact metres.
It hasn’t exactly been the easiest road for him to get to this point but if the 25-year-old keeps up this form, an Origin birth could well and truly be on the cards.
Things were really looking up for Barnett in 2015 as the Wingham Tigers junior would make his NRL debut for the Canberra Raiders, play for the New South Wales Residents and re-sign with the club for the next two years before learning the Raiders hadn’t actually registered his contract with the NRL.
This lead to the Taree native exploring other options and the situation becoming serious when Canberra threatened legal action if he didn’t see out this contract.
In 2016 the Raiders ended up releasing Barnett which prompted his move to the Newcastle Knights where his fortunes were seemingly beginning to change as he was given more opportunities in first grade.
The next year he would unfortunately suffer an ankle injury that saw him miss part of the season and the Knights would win the wooden spoon a third time in as many years.
There was still reason to be optimistic for the future however as Barnett would re-sign with the club until the end of 2020.
In 2018 and 2019 he would really establish himself as a consistent first grader and a valuable asset to the Knights and was rewarded with a contract extension until 2023.
Let’s hope what we saw this past weekend was a sign of things to come for Mitchell Barnett.