NothingButLeague is looking at the best buys for each club in the National Rugby League. In this article we look at the Newcastle Knights.
2016 looks likely to be a season of rebuild after Kurt Gidley, Chris Houston, Clint Newton, Beau Scott and Tyrone Roberts left the club during the off-season. The clubs focus has been on contract extensions for Queensland Origin centre Dane Gagai, the Mata’utia brothers and up and comers in Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Korbin Sims.
New coach Nathan Brown will have at his expense a former Bulldog tactician as they look to move away from the wooden spoon position they finished with at the end of last season.
- Krys Freeman
Position: Hooker, Lock
Previous Club: Norths Devils
Krys Freeman will join the Knights on a one-year deal after playing for Norths Devils in the Intrust Super Cup last year.
Freeman spent some time in the Panthers and Storm feeder systems over the last couple of years. Unfortunately injury got the better of Freeman at Penrith.
He will provide good backup for the Knights in the event that Tyler Randall or Danny Levi are unavailable at hooker. Freeman can also play in the back row. He is the son of former New Zealand captain Gary.
- Mickey Paea
Position: Front Row
Previous Club: Hull FC
Mickey Paea returns from the Super League after four seasons split between Hull FC and Hull KR.
After making only 56 appearances spread over three clubs and seven seasons before heading to the UK, Paea became a week in week out footballer making 96 appearances during his time in Hull.
Paea will be the second oldest forward with the club behind Jeremy Smith when the season starts. His key role will be to provide experience and guidance to a young forward pack.
- Trent Hodkinson
Previous Club: Canterbury Bulldogs
Trent Hodkinson’s signing by Newcastle was by far their best recruitment in years.
You could argue that the current New South Wales Origin halfback will be the best number seven to play in Knights colours since the great Andrew Johns retired almost a decade ago.
Knights fans will be dreaming that Hodkinson and a fit Jarrod Mullen could move their club towards a finals spot.
For all the creativeness provided in Mullen’s game, Hodkinson is methodical and calculated. It’s a perfect combination for success. And success is what Hodkinson’s had at club level. Despite taking no part in the Bulldogs finals campaign last year, Trent was instrumental in giving his side a Grand Final berth from seventh spot in 2014.