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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Barry Toohey

TOOHEY'S NEWS: Parr finally answers Knights' cry for help

It's taken seven years and three attempts but the Knights finally have their man.

Peter Parr's appointment this week as the club's new director of football comes after he turned down offers to return home to Newcastle to fill a similar role on two previous occasions because the timing wasn't right.

The highly regarded former North Queensland Cowboys CEO and head of football was first approached by then Knights CEO Matt Gidley back in 2015, only a few days after the Cowboys' NRL grand final win.

Because of a commitment he'd made to Johnathan Thurston at the time, he said no.

Current CEO Phil Gardner got the same response at the end of 2018 after sounding out Parr for the job again.

At the time, it was also offered to Melbourne Storm's Frank Ponissi before Brian Canavan took it on. When Canavan left after just 12 months, Danny Buderus came on board as footy general manager. Parr's new job is now in addition to Buderus' role.

Peter Parr

It's a smart move. After a "shitty season" [coach Adam O'Brien's words], the appointment is an overdue acknowledgement from Gardner that he needs help.

He doesn't have the time, due to his workload at Wests, to devote solely to the Knights CEO job. It's also an admission he needs assistance on the footy smarts front to dig the club out of the doldrums.

Parr will now head the entire footy operations, reporting directly to Gardner, and take a lead role in the hiring and firing of footy staff. He says he is not walking into a basket case of a club and denies he will simply be a yes-man for Gardner.

"He hasn't appointed me to be his yes-man, I can assure you of that," Parr told us.

"I'm really confident about the future of the club otherwise I wouldn't have said yes. It's about putting the right structures in place from the top right down to the pathways which are so important."

On O'Brien's coaching future, Parr said: "I'll be giving Adam all my support and making sure he has the right resources to be successful.

"This season hasn't gone to plan but the club's nothing like a basket case. We can turn it around quickly and I'm confident we will and not just for the short term."

Parr has been on the Cowboys board for the past two years and heavily involved with the NSW Blues. He arrives in Newcastle on Monday afternoon to start work.

More from Barry Toohey:

The dogs are barking louder than ever about the prospect of Luke Brooks linking with the Knights with the Wests Tigers halfback now sidelined for the rest of the season with a calf injury.

Luke Brooks

The word is Brooks still wants out of the Tigers despite the coaching change and will be Newcastle-bound if he is finally granted a release and a financial deal can be worked out. Brooks will have to take a significant pay cut if he is to be let go.

No move for Best

Suggestions the Knights are considering a positional switch to wing or fullback for centre Bradman Best next season have been met with blank looks from Knights insiders who claim it's never been discussed.

Bradman Best

Croker's promotion?

Mat Croker could find himself elevated into the Knights' top-30 squad on Monday to complete the club's roster by August 1. There is one spot left to fill.

Given Newcastle is out of play-offs contention, the logical move would be to promote from within with the Knights forward, by our calculations, the next in line.

Mat Croker

Department of youth

There will be a real emphasis on youth when Knights pre-season training for the 2023 season kicks off in November.

A host of the club's rising young teenage stars including the likes of Paul Bryan, Oryn Keeley, Max Bradbury, Myles Martin, Chris Vea'ila and Riley Jones will all train full-time with the senior squad over the summer.

Martin, a lock in this year's S G Ball Under 19s side who is yet to finish high school, is tipped to be among the club's NRL development players for next season.

Phythian's dream over

A serious hamstring injury has almost certainly ended Dylan Phythian's dream of breaking back into the NRL again.

Phythian was a regular in the Knights' NSW Cup side before tearing his hamstring around 10 weeks ago and is now out for the season after a failed attempt to return ended in disaster at training.

Dylan Phythian

While he hasn't made a final decision on his future, it's unlikely he will take up another part-time deal at the Knights next season given he is now 27 and has a growing family to consider.

The most likely option is he will return to play with Lakes in the local comp.

Klem gaps 'em

David Klemmer has put another gap in the field in the race for Baz's Best player of the year honours.

The Knights prop's consistency again stood out in the big loss to the Roosters with Klemmer picking up 3 points to skip 6 points clear of the chasing pack.

Rd 19: Knights v Roosters

3 David Klemmer 2 Edrick Lee 1 Phoenix Crossland

Progress points: 20 David Klemmer 14 Dom Young 10 Kalyn Ponga 7 Tyson Frizell, Mitch Barnett, Kurt Mann, Anthony Milford, Edrick Lee 5 Chris Randall 4 Dane Gagai, Jake Clifford 2 Jayden Brailey, Tex Hoy, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Enari Tuala 1 Bradman Best, Phoenix Crossland.

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