With the nib Newcastle Knights about to enter a new era, a new generation of fresh faces look set to storm into contention for NRL positions.
Chief of which is Bradman Best, who has been named on an extended bench for this weekend’s clash with Wests Tigers.
Coach Nathan Brown was full of praise for the 18-year-old, who comes into this weekend fresh off a man of the match performance in his return from injury in Jersey Flegg last weekend.
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“Bradman’s a young kid, there’s not any club in the game that wouldn’t want Bradman,” Brown said.
“I think the club did very well last year to keep him out of the clutches of some other clubs and sign him on a much longer-term deal.
“His mum and dad’s relationship with the club is very strong, he’s a Central-Coast boy, he’s played for the Knights all through the lower grades and he’s one of those kids that’s represented at all levels at all ages.”
Brown said he would have no qualms putting Best into the side to face the Tigers, with the final 17 to be finalised an hour before kick-off.
“We wouldn’t put him there if we didn’t think he could handle it,” he said.
“I don’t think there’d be too many people surprised that Bradman Best is playing first grade at a young age, a lot of people out there would’ve expected that, and as he goes on in his career I’m sure he’ll be a long term player for the club.”
Despite the obvious talent of Best, Brown was adamant he wasn’t the only Knights rookie ready to make his name in the NRL.
“We’ve always sort of thought and hoped that Bradman had the potential to make his debut this year, and if it wasn’t for a couple of injury set-backs and the fact he wasn’t 18, he may’ve played already,” Brown said.
“It’s just like Starford Toa, Starford would’ve definitely played this year but unfortunately he’s had a couple of injuries as well…he may play before the years out.
“These kids are really good long term players, they’re good kids and good trainers, Bradman’s may be the first to make his debut but I’m sure the others will as well.”