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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Barry Toohey

TOOHEY'S NEWS: Future stars to shape Knights' long-term future

They are the teenage stars yet to play in the NRL who will shape the future of the Newcastle Knights over the next decade.

While many may be unrecognisable names right now unless you are an ardent fan of the club's lower grades, recruitment boss Clint Zammit is supremely confident time and the right development will change all that.

"We've got some exceptional kids coming through the ranks and given time and coaching, we are very confident of where they can get to," Zammit told us.

Here's the pick of them:

Bailey Hodgson

While his countryman Dom Young has had an outstanding start to his NRL career, serious injuries and COVID have robbed fellow Englishman Hodgson of the chance at the same opportunities. A dynamic ball-running fullback who has debuted in the English Super League, Hodgson plays his first game of the season today in the Jersey Flegg competition against the Bulldogs at St John Oval after finally over-coming a fractured elbow suffered in the pre-season.

Krystian Mapapalangi

A 19-year-old centre/five-eighth signed from Manly last season who has already received rave reviews from NRL coach Adam O'Brien for his skill level. Coming off an off-season shoulder reconstruction, he has already graduated to NSW Cup level with big things expected of him over the next few years. On a development contract.

Krystian Mapapalangi

Chris Vea'ila

Another development contract player still young enough to play S G Ball who impressed at senior level in the trials. This strong young Kiwi centre has been at the club since he was 15 but suffered a fractured leg weeks ago playing NSW Cup.

Paul Bryan

A tough, 19-year-old prop brought down this season from Mackay. He's already played Queensland Cup and is tipped to be picked in the Maroons Under 19's Origin side. David Klemmer's heir apparent.

Oryn Keeley

Highly regarded 19-year-old backrower from the Central Coast with a great attitude and a standard setter for the S G Ball squad this season with leadership qualities written all over him. Along with Bryan, was taken into NRL camp on the Sunshine Coast recently.

Myles Martin

The boy from Bathurst who is still at school and plays footy on the weekend and goes pig hunting on his days off. Rated a "10-year NRL player" by Zammit who pinched the rugged 18-year-old lock from the Eels.

Max Bradbury

A local kid who plays prop out of the Mark Sargent mould according to Knights insiders. A tough, no-frills 19-year-old frontrower who doesn't do fancy. Has graduated from S G Ball to Jersey Flegg this season.

Fletcher Sharpe

Electrifying 18-year-old fullback from Cessnock who is slightly built but makes up for his lack of size with pure speed. Recently bagged a double playing on the wing for the Goannas in the top grade in the Real NRL.

Ethan Ferguson

His attitude and commitment has been questioned by the club in the past with Ferguson lumped with the 'lazy' tag but the big young 18-year-old Taree centre has responded this season, dropping a huge amount of weight and showing real signs of fulfilling his great potential.

Jermaine McEwen

A 17-year-old backrower from Penrith who was forced out of Sydney for personal reasons earlier this season and made a big impression after joining the club's Harold Matts Under 17's side.

Davy Armstrong

Came down from Goondiwindi this season for a second crack after getting homesick the first time and has disappointed. A flying machine at fullback whose blinding pace has seen him graduate to NSW Cup ranks.

Matterson mail off the mark

Parramatta's NSW Blues star Ryan Matterson is not on the Knights recruitment radar but the club is considering signing Broncos hooker Jake Turpin for the remainder of this season.

Sydney media speculation has linked Matterson to the club but we understand the Knights have shown no real interest with his asking price believed to be close to the $600,000 mark.

Turpin, out of favour in Brisbane, would become the club's final top 30 signing if he agrees to a deal to back-up injured star Jatden Brailey and his replacement Chris Randall. Any contract would likely only be short-term.

Milford opens account

Anthony Milford picked up our man-of-the-match award in just his second game for the Knights against the Warriors last weekend. But it was David Klemmer who strengthened his big lead in Baz's Best with another starring role.

Milford added plenty to the Knights attack while Klemmer was tireless again.

Rd 12: Knights v Warriors

3 Anthony Milford 2 David Klemmer 1 Enari Tuala

Progress points: 14 David Klemmer 7 Tyson Frizell, Dom Young, 6 Kalyn Ponga 5 Chris Randall, Kurt Mann 4 Dane Gagai, Jake Clifford, Mitch Barnett. 3 Anthony Milford 2 Tex Hoy, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Enari Tuala 1 Bradman Best.

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