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Son of a legend and former Cowboys! Meet the 2021 development squad

The nib Newcastle Knights have confirmed their development squad for the 2021 season.

Chris Randall, Jack Johns, Christian Ma'anaima, Garrett Smith and Jacob Kiraz will take the five development spots on the roster and will spend the year training with the first grade squad.

Of the five players, four are new faces in the squad, be it as a result of promotions from junior reps or arriving from elsewhere.

Here's what we know about this year's exciting young talent.

Chris Randall

For the third year running, Chris Randall will feature in the extended squad after a break-out 2020 campaign.

The crafty No.9 was called upon following an injury decimation in the hooking ranks, with long term injuries to Connor Watson, Andrew McCullough and first-choice rake Jayden Brailey.

A local junior emerging from Lakes United, Randall will look to further his development throughout the 2021 campaign and continue to strive for NRL selection.

Jack Johns

Arriving from South Sydney after making his debut last season, Jack Johns will be looking to push for more game-time in 2021.

The son of Club-legend Matthew Johns, Jack is a rangy back-rower who can ball-play like a half.

Like Randall, Johns will provide sizeable depth and competition for the incumbent edge-forwards.

Still just 23, the young gun has plenty of time to develop while training alongside the likes of Tyson Frizell and Lachlan Fitzgibbon.

Christian Ma'anaima

Born in New Zealand, Ma’anaima moved to Australia at the age of 15 to enter the Knights development system.

He was named in the 2020 Jersey Flegg squad, impressing to the point he was promoted to a three-year NRL deal, all despite the competition not going ahead due to COVID-19.

A damaging front-rower with a strong ball carry and offload, the hard-working 19-year-old has a bright future ahead of him.

Ma’anaima will benefit from the opportunity to be in the company of premier middle forwards such Daniel Saifiti and David Klemmer.

Garrett Smith

Another talented middle forward, Smith arrived in Newcastle in November, after spending the previous few seasons in the North Queensland Cowboys system.

Still just 20-years-old, the MacKay product was called into the u/20s Queensland squad in 2019, and impressed in the last two seasons of the Queensland Cup.

Like Ma’anaima, Smith will look to capitalise on the opportunity to develop off the stacked Knights forward pack and provide extra depth should injuries take hold.

Jacob Kiraz

Another North Queensland product, Kiraz is yet to make his NRL debut despite already boasting international experience on his resume.

The 19-year-old notched a Test appearance for Lebanon in mid-2019, and featured again against France during the Rugby League World Cup Nines.

A damaging and tough ball runner, Kiraz spent time in the Dragons and Cowboys systems before arriving in Newcastle late last year.

The impressive young centre will look to push his claim in 2021 and provide competition to the impressive stock of young outside backs at the Club.