He's contracted until the end of 2025 on a rumoured $550,000 per year, but co-captain Jayden Brailey is under pressure to remain the first-choice hooker at the Newcastle Knights.

Brailey injured his knee in April which was a devastating end to his 2023 season campaign. Novocastrian supporters may have assumed their year was all but lost with such an integral member of the spine replaced by a young Phoenix Crossland, who at the time was only semi-regular member of the first grade squad.

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As it turned out, 2023 was a far more successful team performance by the Knights who made it as far as the semi-final, falling short to a red-hot New Zealand Warriors side.

Many of the team's quality performances were built on the back of Crossland's key effort areas and spark in attack and defence. He scored six tries, set up six more and had a tackle efficiency of just under 93%.

With several NRL teams lacking in number 9 depth, Crossland would be forgiven for testing his market value come November 1. But it appears he will remain committed to Newcastle, even if that sees him playing second fiddle to the esteemed Jayden Brailey.

On the back of a stellar season from Crossland, Brailey, who continues to struggle with niggling injuries has been speculated to be a target for incoming St George Illawarra Dragons coach Shane Flanagan.

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Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien moved quickly to shut down rumours, stating at the recent Dally M Awards that "Jayden Brailey and Daniel Saifiti are at the club and will not be leaving."

After 90 games in the red and blue, the ultimate utility player, Kurt Mann, is headed to Belmore to join the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in 2024. This opens the door to Phoenix Crossland to fill that position, identified by O'Brien as "...the perfect foil. He can play at lock, at hooker and in the halves, he's in our best 17 every week."

Newcastle will be desperate to hold onto both Brailey and Crossland, and will be surging into the new season full of momentum and one of the more resilient and supportive fan bases in the game.

Crossland will forego an opportunity to play for New Zealand at the Pacific Championships as he rehabilitates a medial collateral ligament injury.