Newcastle Knights, roster, contracts, 2023, signings, squad, new players, players leaving, halfback, halves, salary cap

Despite losing half of their spine before a ball was kicked in 2022, the Knights’ season got off to a flying start – but things quickly went off the rails and they lost seven straight games.

The crisis has seen Newcastle spiral to last on the ladder and making a third consecutive final series for the first time since 2003 now feels light years away.

Former Newcastle player and head of recruiting Alex McKinnon revealed on the Fox League podcast that the Knights have $800,000 in cap space after not replacing Mitchell Pearce.

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Pearce made a shock departure for France in December and the club were quietly confident they would sign Tigers half-back Luke Brooks.

But the Tigers held on and the Knights found themselves without an experienced half before this season.

But the silver lining is that the club have plenty of cash to spend and can field some of the best players for 2023.

They have the biggest injury department of any NRL team and their backbone is as inexperienced as it gets.

The return of hooker Jayden Brailey will bring a huge change, but the club desperately need an experienced half-back for partner Anthony Milford who will play from Round 11.

Storm superstar Cameron Munster and Eels shot-stopper Ryan Matterson appear set to leave their respective clubs, while Raiders striker Adam Elliott has been linked with the Knights.

Kalyn Ponga of the Knights. Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

After three wooden spoons over the past seven years, Knights fans can’t believe the dreaded r-word is on again – rebuild.

“I think we will see a lot of movement at Newcastle over the next two seasons,” Braith Anasta told NRL 360.

“Ponga is clearly a good player. But he won’t win a competition at Newcastle on his own. He still needs help around him,” added Paul Kent.

Obviously, the Knights can’t sign everyone, but here are some options they could consider to help restore the club to its glory days.

Here, we take a look at the Knights’ roster and the players they could sign to complete the $5 million deal with Kalyn Ponga.

Dolphins hide on young Panthers fullbacks | 02:44

DON’T GO ANYWHERE (signed until at least 2024)

Kalyn Ponga

The Knights have banked on their superstar playmaker, signing the fullback to a $5million deal that keeps him at the club until the end of 2027.

Jayden Braley

The club captain will miss most of the season after fracturing his Achilles tendon during a training session in January.

Dane Gagai

The Maroons star is one of the best talkers in the NRL and will play a crucial role in bringing the Knights off the canvas. He proved a master signing for South Sydney during the off-season.

Daniel Saifiti

The original enforcer is going through a slump in form but he’s a big part of the club’s future, signed until the end of 2026 and at his best one of the best strikers in the game.

Jacob Saifiti

Not as essential to the team’s success as his twin brother, but the Knights remain that no-frills forward rower and have locked him in until 2024.

Best Bradman

The man with the best name in the NRL has shown flashes of brilliance in his fledgling career and at 20 the club won’t let him wander.

‘It adds to the build-up’ – NRL 360 | 04:13

COULD BE MOVED

David Klemmer (under contract until 2023)

Klemmer would make $850,000 this season, but the former Kangaroos prop hasn’t played like a footballer of that billing in some time. The Knights could end up paying some of his big salary to play elsewhere and free up even more cap space.

Tyson Frizell (under contract until 2023)

Another former representative star who is out of shape and taking a significant chunk of the Knights salary cap, earning $700,000 this season. The 30-year-old still has a lot of football in him but could be in the firing line if the Knights decide to shake things up.

Edrick Lee (under contract until 2022)

The former Maroons winger sat out a game last year due to injury and would not have made it to a full Knights squad.

Tex Hoy (under contract until 2022)

The always-big rap kid Andrew Johns hasn’t quite reached his potential and could be kicked out at the end of the season.

GO, GO, ALMOST GO

Anthony Milford

The five-eighth will almost certainly join Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins for the club’s inaugural season next year, meaning the Knights still need an experienced five-eighth.

Mitch Barnett

Newcastle have released this enforcer in the final year (2023) of his contract so he can agree a three-year contract with the Warriors.

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‘It’s unfair’ panel disagrees over Wests | 01:51

POTENTIAL SIGNATURES FOR THE 2023 SEASON

Herbie Farnworth

The Englishman has been a big part of the Broncos’ resurgence this season and would be a devastating central partner with Dane Gagai. Former Knights star Alex McKinnon wrote for foxsports.com.au that Farnworth was the “most exciting young player to come out of contract at the end of the season”.

Angus Crichton

The Roosters star agreed to a new deal with the Habs only for the club to be unable to file him with the NRL due to issues with their salary cap. This fueled rumors that Crichton could return to rugby union. Otherwise, the Knights could do worse than lock him up.

Ryan Matterson

Backrower Eels has played for three clubs in the last five years and for the right price Matterson could be on the move for the fourth time. The Eels have entered talks with Matterson over a new deal with no less than five rival clubs, including the Dolphins, willing to play for him.

Matt Moylan

The veteran playmaker who won a Kangaroos cap in 2016 has returned to form this season and has a few good years left in his legs. He terminates his contract at the end of the season, but the Sharks are expected to start talks on a new deal. The knights will have to move.

Adam Elliot

The Green Machine striker has been linked with the Knights. Elliott has been one of the few standouts at Canberra this season.

Marty Taupeau

Just too expensive to stay at Manly and on the wrong side of 30 but still one of the toughest hitters in the game.

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Murray unavailable for Origin I | 00:50

POTENTIAL SIGNATURES FOR THE 2024 SEASON

Cameron Munster

There aren’t many halves in the NRL who have proven themselves at any level and there are even fewer with this man’s talent. The Storm recently upped their offer for the superstar with the Dolphins willing to pay the Maroons point guard up to $1.2 million per season. Throw the kitchen sink at him.

Stephen Crichton

He is one of the best young talents in the game and on the cusp of a Blues shirt at just 21. Has the potential to play at the back if Ponga moves in the halves. Rumors have begun to surface linking Crichton to the Dolphins as the Panthers face a salary cap squeeze. The Knights should pick up the phone today.

Selwyn Cobbo

The most exciting outside back to break into the NRL since Latrell Mitchell. This young Broncos hottie is on his way to becoming a gaming superstar.

Captain Cody to lead the Bunnies | 03:02

SECOND CHANCE FAIR

Lachlan Lam

A talented young half who can defend and cover multiple positions. Stuck behind Luke Keary and Sam Walker at the Roosters.

Jock Madden

The Wests Tigers have a massive rap about this former Australia Schoolboys captain, but will likely seek playing time elsewhere with Luke Brooks and Jackson Hastings hitting their straps.

Tyrone May

The NRL is littered with players who have been given second chances. The Super League has done wonders for the maturity of Jackson Hastings and at 25 May could turn his career around and add some premiership experience to the Knights.

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