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His 80-minute stint at second row consisted of a try, a try-saver and 168 run metres but coach Adam O’Brien has warned the competition we’re yet to see the best of rookie Dylan Lucas.

A week after Lachie Fitzgibbon helped produce a stunning try-saver on Taane Milne in the win over the Rabbitohs, the 23-year-old deputy followed suit with a game-changing try-saver of his own on Sharks star Briton Nikora.

While Kalyn Ponga’s fancy footwork and Bradman Best’s try-scoring feats have the Knights faithful on cloud nine, O’Brien said plays like Lucas’ 29th minute denial is all part of a 'next man up' mentality that's been years in the making.

“It’s pleasing to get a bit of a highlight reel of guys saving tries. We’re coming up with those each week… and moments like that, they win you big games,” O’Brien said following Sunday’s 32-6 win over the Sharks.  

Lucas saves a try

“I thought Dylan Lucas was excellent coming in for Lachie Fitzgibbon, it’s taken us a few years but we’ve worked really hard at trying to create that next man up.

“When I first got here he was just on a train-and-trial [deal] and we moved him into a development squad.

“He’s predominantly been a winger but he’s starting to put some size on and he’s a bit like Luke Lewis, going in from the wing to the back row.

“I think he’s got a big future with us and I’m glad he’s re-signed for a couple of more years, he’s nowhere near where he’ll get to.”

Dylan Lucas. Icing. Cake.

With outside backs aplenty in Newcastle, Lucas has transitioned into an 80-minute forward in recent seasons, plying his trade mostly in NSW Cup since making his NRL debut in Round 3 this year.

With Fitzgibbon ruled out of Round 26 with a shoulder injury, Lucas impressed after being called upon to fill the void and has retained his spot for Saturday's clash against the Dragons. 

“That’s just turning up for the team, all the boys are the same. You just turn up and hope for the best. I just got lucky there I suppose, right place right time,” Lucas told after asked about the first-half try saver.

“But it was definitely the biggest game I’ve ever played, it gave me goosebumps running out and it is something that I’ll hold close to my heart.

“The team's going well, so I knew I just had to come in, step up and do my role and do that well.”

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With injuries cruelling his chances of cracking first-grade in recent years, Lucas said it was a relief to make his NRL debut in March after moving to Newcastle two years ago to pursue his rugby league dream.

Lucas now shapes as a leading contender to fill the void that will be created when Fitzgibbon departs the club at the end of the year.

Knights: Round 26

“You’re always competing for spots, that’s what makes successful clubs, so I’m happy learning off Fitz at the moment and he’s done a great job for this club for years,” Lucas said.

“I’m happy to sit behind him and learn as much as I can off him about that position.

“Making first grade has been my goal for the last couple of years but a few injuries set me back a bit the past couple of years.

“Being fit and healthy this year, I really wanted to work hard this year, make my debut, keep playing consistent footy and be ready if the boys need me.

“It is very rewarding to see your hard work pay off, but my job is a lot easier when we’re going well. I just have to come in, do my job and do it well, I don’t have to worry about anything else.”