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Knights hooker Jayden Brailey to return from injury against Souths

EXPECTED RETURN: Newcastle Knights hooker Jayden Brailey has been named to come off the bench against South Sydney at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Newcastle Knights hooker Jayden Brailey will make his long-awaited return from injury against the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Friday.

Brailey has been named to come off the bench at McDonald Jones Stadium as the 12th-placed Knights aim to secure back-to-back wins for only the second time this season.

The club captain, who ruptured an Achilles in pre-season training and hasn't featured all year, is expected to be eased back in on Friday and over coming weeks.

Chris Randall, who has started every game this season as Newcastle's dummy-half in place of the more experienced rake, has been retained and will wear the No.9 jersey. Brailey hasn't played since the Knights were eliminated from the finals last September.

The 94-game hooker's return timely coincides with the loss of senior Newcastle players Dane Gagai and Kalyn Ponga, who are in Queensland camp ahead of Origin III next Wednesday.

Strike centre Bradman Best will also return from injury against the Rabbitohs, resuming his spot at left centre and pushing Enari Tuala to the right in place of Gagai.

Best has missed Newcastle's pass four games after suffering a dislocated elbow against Brisbane in May.

"It will be awesome to see 'Brailz' out there playing and we've missed Bradman too," Knights coach Adam O'Brien said. "There are plenty of things to be pleased about ... but we just need to keep one foot in front of the other."

Bench utility Simi Sasagi drops out of the 17 in the only other change to the side that defeated the Titans.

Tex Hoy remains at fullback in place of Ponga.

After their 38-12 win over a limp Gold Coast, Newcastle face the inevitable task this week of trying to contain a footy-starved Latrell Mitchell, who returned from an extended injury layoff against Parramatta on Saturday.

The star Rabbitohs fullback hit the ground running in his side's 30-12 demolition of the Eels on a rain-soaked field at Accor Stadium.

He announced after the game he would forgo the opportunity to be picked for NSW and instead focus on playing club footy this week.

Newcastle coaching consultant and club legend Andrew Johns commended Mitchell for the move.

"I think it's a really selfless decision and it was really mature of him," Johns said.

The seventh-placed Rabbitohs have been forced into a host of changes to cover for the loss of Origin players Cameron Murray, Damien Cook and Jai Arrow, along with injured duo Campbell Graham and Hame Sele.

Taane Milne, Jed Cartwright, Blake Taaffe, Kodi Nikorima, Michael Chee Kam and Davvy Moale have all come into the side.

"It's a big test for us and with Souths the way they're going," Knights winger Edrick Lee said. "They've got strike all over the park and it will be a nice match-up."

Meanwhile, Central Newcastle junior and former Knights lower-grade player Zac Hosking, the son of former Manly forward David 'The Mule' Hosking, has been named to make his NRL debut for Brisbane against the Dragons on Sunday.