The Newcastle Knights could be one club facing a significant overhaul heading into 2025, with a number of key players still off-contract on the final approach to November 1, and constant rumblings around the salary cap.
Add to that that at least some of the players off-contract – most notably Bradman Best and Jacob Saifiti – are going to be very popular on the open market, and there will be room to shuffle for the Knights.
The club could have been in dire need of it too, with a coach in Adam O’Brien hanging onto his job by a thread mid way through the 2023 season, but now, after a staggering final couple of months and charge to the finals, he is secure in his role and can start to build the Hunter-based club for a full on premiership tilt over the next couple of years.
While they have certain areas of the side settled, there are big questions over others, and November 1 could be the perfect time for the Knights to secure some key acquisitions.
In this series, Zero Tackle are running the rule over all 17 clubs and where they stand heading to the date when all players off-contract at the end of 2024 are free to negotiate with their rivals.
Current squad for 2025
Jayden Brailey, Jed Cartwright, Jack Cogger, Phoenix Crossland, Adam Elliott, Jackson Hastings, Jack Hetherington, Dylan Lucas, Greg Marzhew, Kai Pearce-Paul, Kalyn Ponga, Will Pryce, Daniel Saifiti, Leo Thompson
Current best 17 for 2025
1. Kalyn Ponga
2. Greg Marzhew
3. No player signed.
4. No player signed.
5. No player signed.
6. Jack Cogger
7. Jackson Hastings
8. Daniel Saifiti
9. Jayden Brailey
10. Leo Thompson
11. Kai Pearce-Paul
12. Jack Hetherington
13. Adam Elliott
14. Phoenix Crossland
15. Jed Cartwright
16. Will Pryce
17. Dylan Lucas
Players off-contract at end of 2024
Bradman Best, Mat Croker, Tyson Frizell (player option), Dane Gagai, Tyson Gamble, Krystian Mapapalangi, Jacob Saifiti, Enari Tuala, Toni Tupouniua
Here are five players available to negotiate on November 1 from outside of the club the Sea Eagles could target for 2025 and beyond.
EVERY PLAYER OFF-CONTRACT AT THE END OF 2024
The Knights have been linked to a move with Niu previously before he elected to link up with the Dolphins, and while there is little doubt the Redcliffe-based club will be desperate to keep him, there is probably more than one reason he might investigate his options on the open market.
A super talented back who can line up at centre, wing or fullback, Niu was a young debutant for Tonga and has always been touted to do big things in the NRL.
That didn’t really happen at the Brisbane Broncos, and while he has been strong with the Dolphins, the majority of it has been on the wing.
Moving to Newcastle won’t get him more time at his preferred fullback spot, but it will give the Knights a great insurance policy for Kalyn Ponga, who, as much as you hate to talk about it, is an injury worry.
Niu has acceleration, footwork and excellent power, and with the Knights currently looking for more options in their back five, he would be an excellent one given his versatility.