With the 2019 regular season winding down, the nib Newcastle Knights playing roster for the 2020 season is beginning to take shape.
Roster management is ever evolving and something Nathan Brown and his team are constantly tweaking.
With stability in the team’s spine an ongoing issue this season, Brown believes the recruitment of hooker Jayden Brailey will assist in that area.
“We’re certainly looking for someone in a key position to help Junior (Mitch Pearce), that’s why we signed young Brailey,” Brown told the Facebook show Team Talk.
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“The way he sees the game and the calmness he plays with will help take some pressure off Junior.”
With the No.9 role sorted in 2020 with the Cronulla rake on his way to the Club, the five-eighth position is the next focus.
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The 2019 season has seen Kalyn Ponga, Kurt Mann and Mason Lino spend extended periods in the No.6 role, so it should come as no surprise that it’s a spot being discussed.
“It’s definitely something we’ll be looking at,” Brown said.
“It’s a position in the club we’d like to nail, whether that comes from someone within the club or someone outside the club, there’s not a lot of them about neither.
“It’s probably a bit of a play it by ear that one.”
When quizzed on the availability of off-contract marquees such as Kieran Foran and Josh Reynolds, Brown responded with brutal honesty.
“A marquee five-eighth, where you’re talking the big, big money, is probably not where we’re at as a club at this stage,” he said.
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“We’re definitely not looking at someone in that million-dollar price range.”
While promoting juniors and bringing across fresh NRL talent is on the agenda, Brown also keeps a keen eye on the English game.
With the success of duo Josh Hodgson and John Bateman at Canberra, exploring the Super League is something the Knights won’t rule out.
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“Since I’ve been in Newcastle, I’ve tried to get some forwards across (from England),” he said.
“I actually spoke to Johnny Bateman a few years ago, but he wasn’t ready to come out then.
“You’ve got a number of English kids who really have a desire to come to Australia, and some English players who have no desire at all.
“We’re always looking and we’re always hopeful.”
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The backrow and outside backs are an area the club is looking to strengthen and with exciting youngsters Bradman Best and Starford To’a pushing for an NRL start in the future, Brown is confidence the backline will be in a strong position moving forward.
“The thing that would certainly help our squad, with Eddy (Edrick Lee) injured and Rossy (Nathan Ross) retiring… one or two outside backs with athleticism, would be a bonus for us at the moment,” Brown said.
“We’ve got three very good young kids coming through at the moment that we have a lot of hope for, which is pleasing.
“But again, they haven’t been fit to play this year.”