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Goal-kicker confirmed, hooking plan and will Best return?

Adam O’Brien has confirmed Tex Hoy will take the goal-kicking duties on Sunday when the nib Newcastle Knights face Penrith in Round 3.

The coach has also revealed his plan for the hooking role but is coy on how the centre pairing will line-up at Campbelltown Stadium.

With Kalyn Ponga sidelined (suspension), Hoy will debut in the No.1 and take on the responsibilities of the kicking tee in Ponga’s absence.

“Tex will kick. He’s done a really good job,” O’Brien said on Friday.

“He’s been consistent. The way he’s trained, the confidence the team has in him, the confidence he has in himself overrules my worry about having a debutant kick the goals.

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“I’m confident in Tex doing that and so is he.”

O’Brien has also hinted that Connor Watson will start the game at hooker.

While the coach admits he is tempted to start the match with debutant Chris Randall and allow Watson to continue in his impact-man, livewire role, he is leaning towards Watson.

“Starting with a guy who has started in that position in an NRL game before is the right thing to do,” O’Brien said.

“To put Chris straight in, the speed of the game could impact him a little bit.

“It’s important we start well… Chris is not slow out of dummy half, he’s a good runner of the footy.”

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Having signed Andrew McCullough from Brisbane last week, O’Brien admits it was “tempting” to throw new recruit into the side with only a handful of training sessions under his belt.

However, he clarified his position around why the former State of Origin rake was overlooked for the Panthers clash.

“I said from day one when I got here that players will earn the Knights jersey,” the coach said.

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“I feel that’s exactly what Chris has done and that’s what Tex has done.

“The decisions I make early on can’t be short sighted. We need to make decisions based on the next 5-10 years and I’m a man of my word.

“I have faith in what Chris will bring.”

One thing which remains unclear is the make-up of the centres.

Bradman Best was named on an extended bench with Enari Tuala and Gehamat Shibasaki in the starting side but O’Brien was coy when asked whether Best would find his way into the final 17.

“We still have another session to go, we’ll know more Sunday afternoon,” Best said.

“The two guys that done the job in the first two games have trained really well and I can’t take away from what Bradman has done.

“I haven’t snookered myself, I’ve kept them all in the 21 (man squad). We have tomorrow to get through and we’ll make a decision there.”