Exclusive: Klemmer says Knights move not about money

David Klemmer has spoken for the first time about his abrupt exit from Canterbury, adamant his decision to sign a five-year deal with the Knights isn't about money.

Klemmer hasn't surfaced since requesting an immediate release from the Bulldogs last month, but the 24-year-old sat down with NRL.com after finalising his deal on Monday to address the issues surrounding his premature departure from Belmore.

The NSW and Australian prop insists money wasn't the motivation behind his release, despite suggestions the father of three was heading to the Knights to fill his wallet.

NRL.com understands Klemmer will earn less per season at the Knights over five years than he stood to earn per year in his final two years at the Bulldogs.

"I'm not going for money," Klemmer told NRL.com.

"People think they know what happens in people's lives but I'm not selfish. I am taking my family to an environment that I think they need. I am putting what I believe is my family's best interests ahead of everything else. If people think that's selfish then I can live with it." 

While it has been well documented there have been some delicate contractual issues with Klemmer's most recent deal at the Bulldogs, the prop refused to take aim at the club.

"I love the Bulldogs. Always have, always will," he said.

"I grew up pretending I was Hazem El Masri and all I've ever wanted was to play for the Bulldogs. I'm proud of everything I achieved and did for the club. I'm proud I am part of the history of such a great club.

I think Newcastle, not just as a club but as a city, will make me a better person

Knights signing David Klemmer

"In business, things happen, but I'll never say a bad word about the club. They've given me everything I've got. I know the fans will be disappointed and they have every right to be, but at this point in my life I know I am making the right decision."

When Klemmer fronted Bulldogs chief executive Andrew Hill last month alongside his wife Chloe - his high school girlfriend he has since married and had three boys with - it was clear Newcastle was his preferred destination given his desire to move away from Sydney.

He asked for a release from the club on compassionate grounds but didn't want to delve into his private affairs.

"I'm not going to get into it," he said.

"I don't feel the need to justify it. It's my own business. What I will say is that I think Newcastle, not just as a club but as a city, will make me a better person. And I hope I can contribute to helping make Newcastle a better football team in return.

"I have a lot of development left in me and I think that fits in well with what Browny is building at the club. 

"From the outside, as a footy fan it's been exciting to see the way Newcastle has been rebuilt and I want to be part of it. From the moment I met Browny I knew I wanted to be there."

Knights recruitment manager Troy Pezet, who was also Klemmer's first manager, led the club's pursuit of Klemmer alongside Brown.

However, Knights halfback and captain Mitchell Pearce has also played a significant role in convincing Klemmer his future belonged in Newcastle.

"Pearcey has been great," Klemmer said.

In business, things happen, but I'll never say a bad word about the [Canterbury] club

David Klemmer on the Bulldogs

"I've played Origin with him and he actually tried to help me out on a personal level during our time together. He gave me a book on spirituality in camp last year to try help me deal with things away from the field.

"I think we're pretty similar. We can play things out in our head, so sometimes we need help clearing the head noise. To hear how much Newcastle helped him, it definitely made me comfortable knowing it’s where I want to call home for the next five years."

Klemmer is one of a number of high profile players to depart Belmore in the past 12 months.

His close friend Aaron Woods was moved on mid-season, so too fullback Moses Mbye. It comes on the back of favourite sons Josh Reynolds and James Graham being squeezed out at the end of 2017.

The departure of those players has had a significant impact on the squad, but probably none more so than Klemmer.

"I'd be lying if I said that it hasn’t taken a toll," he said.

"Those guys are some of the closest people in my life and it hurt seeing them leave. One by one the people you love and respected were gone. It showed me that this is a business. The club did what the club had to do. It wasn't personal but they put the club first. I'm doing the same thing.

"Players come and players go. It's sad that my time at the club is up but they've got a world class player in Dylan Napa coming in to go with some of the impressive talent that came through last year. I really hope the club returns to success very soon."

While Klemmer isn't due back to training until mid-December, the prop is expected to begin his tenure with the Knights on Monday such is his willingness to be part of the preseason.

"I just want to get into it," he said.

"I'm so excited about this new chapter in my life. I'm excited about playing alongside blokes like Pearcey and Kalyn Ponga. I can't tell you how much I'm excited about next year. You look at that roster and there's so much potential in it. I've heard it's a special place to play, and I want to be part of doing special things up there."