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.
This week we take a look at the backline possibilities.
Note: These depth charts are the opinion of newcastleknights.com.au and have no input from the coaching staff.
What an excellent signing Edrick Lee turned out to be last season.
The Brisbane junior joined the Knights from Cronulla a year ago and made an immediate impact on the team.
The big winger made a number of huge try saving tackles and pounced on a loose pass in the dying stages of the first game of the year to run the length of the field and win the game for the Knights against his former team.
In 14 games on the left wing for Newcastle, Lee crossed the line six times before a broken arm put him out for the rest of the season.
Lee was on the cusp of an Origin look in last season and will certainly be looking to get his name back in the conversation for a Maroons jersey in 2020.
15 days after this powerhouse centre turned 18, Best was thrown straight into NRL action and certainly didn’t look out of place.
The monster back started his career off with a bang, running over the Tigers for 122 metres in his first game before scoring his first try the week after in front of his home crowd.
While he made his debut on the wing, Best is a centre with size and pace.
He’s already a fan favourite and after another full pre-season under his belt, Best will be looking to be in and around O’Brien’s starting 17 for next season.
What a pleasant surprise Hymel Hunt was for the Knights in 2019.
Hunt joined from South Sydney at the start of last year and was the only player to feature in all of Newcastle’s games, scoring eight tries.
He’s a strong outside back with exciting speed and was a bright spot in what was a disappointing end to the year last season.
'It's the toughest pre-season I've ever done'
He’s signed a fresh new contract with the Club and after his excellent 2019 season, Hunt will hope to find himself in the starting 17.
The 21-year-old is one of the Club's newest additions.
A defensive centre who has arrived from the Broncos, Shibasaki is a former Queensland under 20s and Junior Kangaroos representative.
He made 12 appearances for the Broncos last season, taking his total first grade games to 13.
He can play centre or wing.
Tuala joins the Knights this season from the Cowboys where he made his debut back in 2017.
The 21-year-old centre had an excellent start to his career, representing Queensland in their under 16s and 18s teams and featured in the Junior Kangaroos team in 2017. The year after making his NRL debut, he was selected in the Prime Minister’s XIII.
Barnett: Training challenges and positional changes
The Knights unleashed a gun when To’a made his debut for the Club in the final round of the season.
He burst onto the scene scoring an electrifying try, intercepting a poor pass and running 60 metres to score his first points.
His thrilling debut certainly has Knights fans excited for what is to come and with a void needed to be filled on the right wing next season, To’a would not look out of place there come Round 1.
It’s been an up and down start to Tautau Moga’s career with the Knights due to injuries but it was great to see him return to the NRL arena in 2019.
The powerful centre made six appearances for the Knights last season after recovering from his forth knee reconstruction and crossed the line twice.
His intimidating presence and big game experience, Moga has plenty to offer.
Sione Mata’utia is certainly no stranger to playing in the backline having played there most of his junior years and his early NRL career.
Coming into his seventh season in the NRL, Sione has experience beyond his years having now played 112 games at the age of 23.
He played most of last season in the backrow but did move back into the centres at times as an injury replacement.
Sione’s playing resume is starting to look quite impressive and his versatility could be used as a weapon by O’Brien in 2020.
There wasn’t a positon in the backline which Kurt Mann didn’t play last season.
The Knights Mr. Fix-it slotted in anywhere the team needed him and could do the same next season.
He has plenty of NRL experience at fullback, wing and centre which is a godsend for any coach.
O’Brien would certainly love a player of Mann’s versatility in his side.
Newcastle junior Tex Hoy had a fantastic season in his first year with the Canterbury Cup team and has done enough to earn himself a second development contract.
He’s an exciting talent with some real attacking flare in his play.
The 20-year-old has played a range of positions during his career including centre and wing.
Currently on a train and trial contract, the former Australian Schoolboy is attempting to secure an NRL deal.
Having played seven games for the Gold Coast, the 22-year-old has spent his NRL career on the wing and looms as an option should he secure a future at the Knights.