NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 07: Kalyn Ponga of the Newcastle Knights warms up during the round four NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the St George Illawarra Dragons at McDonald Jones Stadium on April 07, 2019 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

The Newcastle Knights' well-advertised plan to move Kalyn Ponga back into the halves for 2023 has hit a snag, with the club seemingly unable to secure the services of a high-profile fullback that would be required to make the move happen.

The club has recently signed Jackson Hastings as the other piece of the planned halves combination, but their repeated attempts to lure a quality custodian to the Steel City have been repeatedly rebuffed.

The Daily Telegraph's David Riccio detailed the club's failed pursuits so far when speaking to Triple M.

“They appear to be struggling to find a fullback,” Riccio said.

“It seems as if the Knights are going all-in on Ponga to five-eighth and they're doing everything possible to try and appease their superstar.

“They've missed Rueben Garrick from Manly – they attempted to sign him.

“They've been in negotiations with Brisbane's Tesi Niu. I wouldn't say the door's been closed completely by the Broncos but (the situation) is not ultimately promising.

“Now they've had a crack at Cronulla's Lachlan Miller. Cronulla have a huge opinion of Miller and are unlikely to let him go earlier than his current contract.

Brisbane Broncos Training Session
Tesi Niu leads a shrinking list of fullback targets for the Newcastle Knights. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Not long after the Knights declared their interest in Garrick, Manly offered him a huge deal to stay at the club, despite the Knights offering the fullback role.

While Miller is a free agent if the Sharks don't lock him up by the end of next season, the Knights need someone for 2023 and it's unlikely the Sharks will let Miller go.

This leaves the Knights in a precarious position. While their interest in Niu is well-known following the arrival of Reece Walsh in Brisbane, they look set to lose the race for his signature to the Dolphins.

It's a situation that doesn't bode well for the Knights, with more questions than answers still hanging over the club heading into 2023, despite Hastings' arrival.

“The Knights are struggling to nail their spine, which is concerning at this point in the season when they don't know who their fullback is and they're only just signing their half in Jackson Hastings,” Riccio continued.

“This is a critical part of the preparation for the Knights as far as pre-season is concerned.”

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I’d suggest that Newcastle’s biggest problem is hiring a new recruitment & retention manager.

    It’s been twelve months since Mitchell Pearce said he wanted to go, and the club has failed to find the best position for Ponga, and sort out the spine. They are in nearly as bad a position as they were at the start of last season.

  2. Newcastle need to go after Daine Laurie hard for 2023. He still has a year at the Tigers but he appears as if he will play second fiddle to Stains. Laurie, Ponga, Hastings, Brailey in the spine and Gamble at 13 gives plenty of attack.

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