NRL Rd 7 - Knights v Panthers
NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 15: Bradman Best of the Knights is tackled by the Panthers defence during the round seven NRL match between Newcastle Knights and Penrith Panthers at McDonald Jones Stadium on April 15, 2023 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

The Newcastle Knights have hit back at speculation they could agree to release Bradman Best or one of the Saifiti brothers.

Reports have been doing the rounds that the Knights will ultimately look to gain more control over their salary cap, which has been bloated thanks to Kalyn Ponga's deal, by releasing a star.

Best is off-contract at the end of next year and would be free to negotiate with rival clubs from November 1 this year at any rate, while Jacob Saifiti is in the same boat.

Daniel Saifiti is off-contract at the end of 2026, but has failed to become the consistent force the Knights hoped he would be when not only locking in a long-term extension, but also moving on David Klemmer to the Wests Tigers at the start of the current ongoing 2023 campaign.

But, speaking to The Newcastle Herald, the Knights, through director of football Peter Parr, have confirmed there is no desire to release either player.

"There's never been a discussion had about releasing Daniel or Bradman," Parr told the Newcastle Herald.

"I understand that with recruitment and retention, there are always rumours floating around in the world of rugby league. But we have no desire to release either player. It's our intention that they both end up as long-term players for the Knights.

"I've reiterated that to both the players, and their agents, and I've never had a discussion about either player with another club."

Parr went a step further, stating he wants the club to re-sign Best before he is able to negotiate with rival outfits on November 1 this year.

"That would be our preferred option ... we'll let Bradman keep playing his footy for the moment, and see what eventuates down the track," Parr said.

Best has been with the Knights since being invited to train with the club as a 17-year-old, having played his junior football for the Woy Woy Roosters.

A former under-16 and under-18 State of Origin player for New South Wales, Best also played for the Australian Schoolboys in 2018, having signed a four-year deal with the Knights despite being just 17 years of age at that time.

The now 21-year-old, who made his NRL debut at the age of 18, has gone on to play 58 games, often struggling through injuries and form, but at his best, has been a powerhouse on the edge for Newcastle.

New South Wales coach Brad Fittler indicated Best was in the State of Origin selection discussion last year prior to injury, and his form this year has seen four tries, eight try assists, 27 tackle breaks, and 132 metres per contest across his 13 appearances.

Plenty of clubs could be angling for an upgrade in the centres, so there is little doubt as to why Parr wants to get the deal done with Best for an extension before November 1.

The Saifiti brothers on the other hand have both been linked with moves away from the Knights, with the feeling they simply haven't matched their potential in the Hunter since debuting for the club, although they have both played Origin for the Blues in that time.