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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Max McKinney

Lee backs Young to earn England call-up after 'tremendous' season

ON THE RISE: Dom Young. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Edrick Lee stole the show with five tries but he says a World Cup call-up is now surely firming for fellow Knights winger Dom Young.

The twenty-year-old flyer scored a hat-trick in Newcastle's 38-12 victory over the Gold Coast on Friday in an effort that was largely overshadowed by Lee's record-breaking haul.

The performance continued Young's stunning rise this year following his mixed rookie NRL season in 2021.

The athletic and dread-locked Englishman has emerged as one of the Knights' shining lights among an, at times, bleak season.

After playing six NRL games last year, Young has made 12 appearances and scored seven tries in 2022.

His defence and work in starting the Knights' sets have been key areas of improvement which, in addition to his attack, have earned him high praise.

Club legend Matthew Johns has gone as far as labelling Young Newcastle's best player this year.

Having watched Young's development over the past 18 months, Newcastle's more experienced winger Lee believes he is all but certain to be picked by England for the World Cup later this year.

"Fingers crossed," Lee said.

"That's one thing we push for. If we can create the environment of playing consistent footy, you sort of put your hand up for rep footy.

"From his opportunities that he has had, from playing at the start of the season, he has been tremendous.

"I'm sure he has definitely been in the watchful eye of the England team and hopefully he'll get picked."

HAT-TRICK: Young scoring one of three tries against the Gold Coast. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Young, born and raised in the north of England, could have a decision on his hands should English officials ultimately come calling.

He is also eligible to play for Jamaica, who are making their World Cup debut in the October tournament.

Young has previously expressed a desire to represent the Caribbean nation and honour his family's heritage alongside older brother Alex, who plays in the English second-division competition.

Lee said no matter which country Young might play for in the upcoming World Cup, the sky was the limit for his towering teammate.

"[He has] a lot of potential," Lee, 29, said of Young.

"He has benefited playing with Dane Gagai inside him, [but he has a] massive amount of potential."

Either way, Young is shaping up to have a big future with England and admitted last month coach Shaun Wane had reached out ahead of the first World Cup since the 2017 tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

"I'll just keep doing my job and see what happens at the end of the year," the Dewsbury Rams junior said.

"I think Shaun Wane spoke to my agent, but I don't really know what's going on to be honest. I've not really thought about it too deeply yet. There's still a big chunk of the season to go.

"I'll probably think about what I really want to do at the back end of the year."

Knights coach Adam O'Brien said he could not recall a player making more improvement in the space of a year than Young.

"I would have to go a long way back to have someone beat him, he has been exceptional," O'Brien said after Friday's win over the Titans.

"To see how disappointed he was in the Raiders game last week, whilst it was heartbreaking to see a young bloke so down, it made me excited as well because it means a lot to him. He wants to perform, he wants the team to win, he is connected to our town.

"To get that in 12 months was huge, but what he is doing on the field is unreal."

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