Defoe snubs Europe to stay with Eagles

Darius Defoe snubbed interest from Europe to sign up for another season with Newcastle Eagles

Darius Defoe in action
Darius Defoe in action

Defoe and Charles Smith have both penned one-year deals and will form the “core” of an Eagles team that has been totally revamped following last season’s frustration.

It has emerged that Defoe had offers from Europe, however, and owner Paul Blake has paid tribute to the long-serving star’s “loyalty” as he prepares for 12th season in an Eagles vest.

“Darius could easily have gone to Europe and I know that there were clubs interested in him,” he said.

“It is a testament to his loyalty to Newcastle Eagles that he came back for another year with us, and  we are delighted  both him and Charles are going to be with us again next year.

“I think that Darius’ ability does sometimes get forgotten about. There is a GB squad going to the European Championships and I believe that Darius is of that standard.

“We have spoken to Darius before about Europe and I think that at some point that will happen for him.  In the meantime we’re just delighted that he’ll be playing with us again.”

Defoe and Smith will represent a much-diminished “core” for the Eagles, who have taken a conscious decision to freshen things up after  the disappointment of being beaten to the league’s silverware for Leicester Riders last season.

Along with Flournoy it will mean just three players coming back to Sport Central who were part of the roster last season. Blake acknowledges that is something very different for the club.

“Normally the minimum is four that we have brought back but   we wanted to freshen things up,” he said. “I watched the play-off final recently and we weren’t as bad as I think has been portrayed, to be fair. But perhaps we looked a bit tired and this new side will have energy.”

That exuberance will be balanced with experience – and the presence of veteran Smith will be a key factor for Flournoy.

He said: “The last three or four seasons have been a rollercoaster experience from winning everything to winning nothing. On past form this should be our year again.”

The Eagles have announced their pre-season campaign. They will face Team Northumbria on September 9 before taking on Team USA on September 16 – with tickets for both going on sale early next week.

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