The Newcastle Knights are set to reward hard-working hooker and lock Chris Randall with a promotion to the top 30 squad in 2022.
One of the NRL's best underdog stories, Randall, at 25 years of age, has almost given his career at the top level away more than once as he struggled to break out of the development system.
But years of toil on a rookie deal, as well as some strong performances when replacing Jayden Brailey at hooker, or off the bench at lock, are set to buy him the promotion, according to a Newcastle Herald report.
He has also spent time in the halves in junior footy, with the versatile backup option having made four appearances this season, adding to his seven last season.
Plucked from relative obscurity to debut in Round 3 last season against the Penrith Panthers, his 80-minute performance saw him make north of 50 tackles in what was a stirring performance from the Knights.
He has impressed virtually every time he has taken to the field since then, starting at lock and scoring a try in Round 5 against the Gold Coast Titans, before starting at hooker in Round 21 and then playing off the bench in the last two games.
All Run Metres
Randall will start at hooker with Jayden Brailey set to be rested this weekend, and could well then revert to the bench during the finals, which would be his first taste of knockout footy at NRL level.
The Lakes United junior told the publication he wants to stay at the Knights.
"I obviously want to stay here and if I get the chance, that's what I'll be doing," he said.
"But right now, I just want to play good footy and get another win."
Coach Adam O'Brien said Randall could be in for an increased role next season with Connor Watson exiting the club for the Roosters.
"He's a great trainer who's really fit. He's got a lot of strings to his bow but none more so than his toughness and how fit he is and how much he competes which are traits I love in players. And with Connor going, I would think there will be even more opportunities for a player like him," O'Brien told the publication.
The Knights play the Broncos on Saturday afternoon at 3pm (AEST).