The nib Newcastle Knights are blessed with options for 2020.
In the lead-up to the new season, newcastleknights.com.au will look over the depth of the Club and break down the positional options at the disposal of coach Adam O’Brien.
Today we take a look at the fullback possibilities:
Note: These depth charts are the opinion of newcastleknights.com.au and have no input from the coaching staff.
“He’ll be our No.1.”
That’s what Knights coach Adam O’Brien announced at the start of pre-season training when asked what position Kalyn Ponga will be playing next season.
The 2018 Danny Buderus medalist had another electrifying season in 2019, almost doubling his try total from a year ago, crossing the line 11 times.
Ponga also got the start at fullback for Queensland in the first two games of the 2019 State of Origin series before a calf injury ruled him out for the final game.
He started the 2019 season next to Mitchell Pearce in the halves but ended the year strongly in the custodian position.
O’Brien is certainly looking to continue to develop Ponga at fullback, but after starring for the Junior Kangaroos at five-eighth during October, playing in the halves is also an option down the road.
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To’a certainly showed he has a bright future in the NRL when he made his debut in the final round of last season.
When experienced winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall was ruled out against the Panthers, To’a was called into the starting lineup and didn’t disappoint.
The 19-year-old pounced onto a pass, intercepting and running 60 metres to score his first try.
While he played on the wing, To’a has played the bulk of his junior career at fullback and centre.
After having a taste of the NRL, To’a will be looking to impress during the pre-season and will be pushing hard for a spot in O’Brien’s starting 17.
Need a position filled? Well Kurt’s your man.
This guy played everywhere for the Knights in 2019 and would most flourish in the fullback position if he was needed there.
Having played fullback, wing, centre, five-eighth and hooker last season, Mann will be looking to lock down a more permanent position this season.
With Ponga expected to play fullback in Round 1, Mann will certainly be a great back-up for the Queensland representative.
Just like Mann, Watson is a Mr. Fix it kind of player.
He’s now almost played every position during his time in the NRL, usually filling the void of an injured teammate.
In his first season with the Knights he was the starting five-eighth before finding himself playing fullback at the start of 2019.
But when Ponga moved back to the custodian position, Watson was moved all around the park and found himself a home as the starting hooker.
Watson’s versatility however does give the coach the option to play him at fullback if needed.
A Newcastle junior, Hoy took the Canterbury Cup by storm last season, running for over 130 metres per game and scoring seven tries.
The 20-year-old has now earned his second development contract with the club and will be looking to impress.
He’s an electric fullback who offers a lot in attack and has speed to burn.
Keep an eye out for Hoy come the 2020 trial games.
Edrick Lee was arguably one of the Knights’ best in 2019 before a broken arm ended his season early.
Arriving from Cronulla at the start of last year, Lee played 14 games for the Knights, crossing the line six times.
He played all of last season on the left wing but is definitely an option for the coach to play the fullback position.
He’s played there earlier in his eight-year career and wouldn’t shy away from the challenge if he was asked to play fullback at any point in 2020.