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Bradman Best

He once wanted to take a hit up with the bodyweight of Jason Taumalolo but an honest conversation with a retired halfback resulted in Knights product Bradman Best wanting to model himself on Greg Inglis.

Arguably one of the most promising juniors to come out of Newcastle's production line in a decade, Best isn't the usual teenage prodigy who has excelled in one position since his grassroots days.

The 18-year-old, who made his NRL debut against the Wests Tigers last season, was preparing to bulk up as a forward when he was part of the club's Chargers development system but ex-Knight Scott Dureau and former recruitment manager Troy Pezet had other ideas.

"They said they could turn me into a big, fast, strong fullback and when they put it like that I thought of Greg Inglis," Best told

"I looked up to GI growing up but it was a big shock because I wanted to play lock or second row. I got home when they told me and Dad just sort of laughed and thought it was a joke.

"Mum actually liked the idea, she said she'd always seen me as a fullback. So, it was a big change for me. I worked hard at it. The running wasn't too bad, it was more under the high ball. It scared me the most and I wasn't used to that. 

"It changed my whole mentality."

Best senior's reaction would come as no surprise.

Bradman's father Roger represented the Sea Eagles and London Broncos as a back-rower in the 1990s.

The possibility of his nuggety son turning into an outside back wasn't in his thoughts at a critical time where talent scouts are looking for the next big thing in the under 16s and 18s competitions.

"I grew up the same size as everyone but when I turned 12-13 I had a growth spurt early once I hit puberty," Best said.

"I look back on it now and I was one of the bigger players in teams. I used to eat heaps as a kid. I started weights pretty young because I was part of the club's high-performance unit at around 14.

"Then when I moved to fullback I took a bit more of a focus around my diet, I was watching what I was eating and took a more serious approach. But I used to still love the gym. I'd train on my own to keep ticking it over."

As it would dictate his early years, Best's transition from fullback to the centres ahead of his NRL debut last season came back to that one word: weight.

The Central Coast product now sits at 103 kilograms – one kilo heavier than star Rabbitohs centre Latrell Mitchell.

And still only at 18 years of age, Best understands his body still requires development and is often turning to Knights teammate Sione Mata'utia for advice on how to handle the physical demand.

Mata'utia became the youngest player to debut for Australia at 18 in 2014.  

"When I was coming up through the ranks of Harold Matts and SG Ball, he's been the one to give the speeches and give up his time to come and talk to us," Best said of Mata'utia.

"He'd hand us our jerseys and I look back at that and think how good how it is to train and play with him.

"Physically he's really looked after himself and I want to do the same. At the moment I'm doing some Pilates and yoga, which I think is a big part for my body."

Best was all but pencilled in for Adam O'Brien's round one side in March until a foot injury sidelined him indefinitely.

After complications from his first setback prior to the NRL Nines in February, he's on track to return by May 28.

Where, however, he fits into O'Brien's side following the emergence of Enari Tuala and Gehamat Shibaskai remains to be seen.

And with no Canterbury Cup in 2020, the reality is the junior NSW representative faces the prospect of not having a weekly dose of match conditioning if he can't break into the 17.

"I want to play footy and centre is preferred but Gehamat and Enari killed it," Best said.

"I've got to make a case for 'Adz' to pick me, it's as simple as that. Hopefully by Friday I get the all-clear from the physios and be out of rehab.

"My body has had a good rest and I can't notice anything wrong with my foot now, I'm jumping and leaping well. I've just got to tick a few more boxes to be 100 per cent ready to go."

And don't rule out the prospect of Best returning to his junior years and slotting into the No.14 jersey to play a utility role for the Knights, either.

"That could be something to look at for sure, I haven't properly looked into it but the boys have thrown it up to me," Best said.

"If 'Adz' wants to play me off the bench I'll be happy to do so. If I have to go back onto the bench in the 14 and slot into the middle it will be a good test but I'd do it.

"Hopefully I'd bring a ball of energy to the boys."