NEWCASTLE Knights Harold Matthews (under-16) coach Rory Kostjasyn hasn’t settled on his squad for their 2018 season opener.
But if putting in the hard yards early in the pre-season is any indication, Laurieton teenager Ryan Long is a good chance to feature in the final 17.
Long has put his best feet forward in the off-season and made an impression off the bench during Saturday’s 14-8 trial win over Cronulla at Toronto.
As he continues his comeback from a broken thumb, Long had an impressive 20 minute stint in oppressive conditions at Lyall Peacock Field.
The Knights led 10-8 at the time and Long provided the starch in defence during the latter stages of the game.
Knights pathway manager Casey Bromilow said Long had impressed during the pre-season.
“Longy has put his best foot forward for us and he’s certainly not been a problem for us,” he said.
“Rory isn’t sold on his squad for the first game, but Longy’s definitely in the mix.”
The Knights held a three-day training camp at Bonny Hills last week in preparation for the Toronto trial and Bromilow said it had the desired result.
“Being in camp all week it gave the boys a bit of a better preparation and their performance showed that,” he said.
Joining Long in the Knights squad is Wauchope teenager Tylee Donovan, although Donovan is not expected to feature in the team until later in the nine-week season.
“Tylee is injured at the moment so he won’t be ready for round one,” Bromilow said.
The Knights start their season at Cessnock Sports Ground on February 10 against St George.