TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 20: Heilum Luki of the Cowboys celebrates after scoring a try during the round 11 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Newcastle Knights at QCB Stadium, on May 20, 2021, in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Newcastle are understood to have emerging Cowboys forward Heilum Luki in their sights, with rival clubs continuing to circle North Queensland's youthful back-rower cohort.

Luki, 20, impressed in his debut season this year, playing 11 matches to score three tries and amass a strong tackle rate across his maiden campaign at NRL level.

The Cairns native is part of a promising core group of forwards at North Queensland, with the likes of Tom Gilbert, Ben Condon and Jeremiah Nanai all taking their talents to new levels in 2021.

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Nanai is another young forward reportedly gaining interest, with the Wests Tigers looking to lure the teenager to Concord following Luciano Leilua's departure to Townsville for 2023.

Now the Cowboys will also be looking to retain Luki for the future, with The Newcastle Herald's Barry Toohey revealing the Knights are showing interest in the contracted second-rower.

Luki claimed the Cowboys' Rookie of the Year gong in 2021 despite not featuring at senior level until Round 11.

The 195cm forward made his debut against the Knights, playing 24 minutes off the interchange and scored his first NRL try in the 36-20 win.

Luki played a further seven games off the bench under Todd Payten this year along with three starts as a second-rower for the Cowboys between Rounds 21-23.

According to Toohey's report, the Knights are keen to bolster their forward stocks for the coming years despite their strong retention of back-rowers.

Josh King was the only recognised forward to leave the Hunter club for 2022, with Connor Watson's utility value also a loss to Adam O'Brien's lock depths.

It is unknown whether the Knights' interest for Luki is for an immediate release, however the young forward is able to sign with a rival club for 2023, with other sides understood to be showing interest in Luki's services alongside Newcastle.