There have been several selection question marks over the 2017 pre-season that were answered by coach Nathan Brown when he named his Queanbeyan trial squad on Wednesday.
Most pertinent among them was who would get first chance at the fullback position this year, and it turns out that 21-year-old Dylan Phythian gets the nod after a strong pre-season.
“The coaching staff and the playing group are very confident that Dylan will do a good job,” Brown said following training on Wednesday morning.
“(Former assistant coaches) Danny Buderus and Craig Smith had a high opinion of him, and this pre-season he’s trained really well.”
It may seem an odd choice for some, as Phythian made his first grade debut at hooker last season. But the utility has far more experience at fullback than hooker, as Brown explained.
“Fullback and five-eighth are the positions that he’s played throughout his junior career,” Brown said.
“He played hooker last year because of the situation that the Club was in.”
Phythian impressed with two tries in the trial match against the Tweed Heads Seagulls a fortnight ago, and has plenty of natural ability.
“We’re confident that he can hold the fullback position for the season,” Brown said.
“It’s a big ask, but he’s a great trainer and a tough player, so I’m confident that he’ll do well.”
With fullback being one of the most involved positions on the field, Brown admitted that it may take time for the rookie to truly find his feet there.
The coach indicated that he would give Phythian the time required though, and was realistic in his expectations.
“Fullback is one of the toughest positions on the field and thankfully he’s very fit and a natural football player,” Brown said.
“We’re confident in him, but I suppose the proof will be in the playing.
“He doesn’t have to be the best player in week one or two, we just need him to be consistent and one bad performance won’t cost him his spot.”
The Knights take on the Raiders at Seiffert Oval on Saturday night and the match will be streamed live at newcastleknights.com.au from 6.30pm.