THE Knights are trying to lock in NSW Cup grand final heroes Honeti Tuha and Kerrod Holland to new second-tier deals for next season.
Tuha scored a hat-trick of tries to win man-of-the-match honours in their 20-10 victory over Wyong in the decider at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday. He and left-edge centre partner Holland, who crossed for a try and kicked two goals, amassed all of Newcastle's points.
Both players spent time in the Newcastle Rugby League this year - Tuha for Lakes and Holland for Cessnock - but emerged as the Knights' leading try-scorers in NSW Cup.
Tuha, whose grand final hat-trick was his third for the season but first in a victory, did not score a try until round eight but has taken his tally to 19. Holland opened his account with a treble in round 13 and has scored almost every week since then to have 18 under his belt.
"That's what this system does," Knights NSW Cup coach Matt Lantry said.
"You're never too old to play NRL, and these blokes are on the brink of it if they keep challenging themselves and working hard."
Tuha and Holland will be free agents after the State Championship final against Ipswich at ANZ Stadium on Sunday, but Knights football director Michael Hagan said negotiations were ongoing with both players.
The Knights are making a revised offer to Tuha after the 22-year-old's manager, Gavin Orr, rejected the club's initial proposal. Tuha, who spent time in Newcastle's NYC squad two years ago, said his priority was to stay at the Knights.
■ Kerrod Holland was the only Knights player named in the NSW Cup team of the year.
"Kerrod would have been lucky to play more than five games at centre his whole career, but he's done a tremendous job the last couple of weeks," coach Matt Lantry said.
Wyong and former Knights lower-grade mentor Rip Taylor was named coach of the team of the year, which included Roos Omar Slaimankhel and Mitch Williams.
Illawarra prop Russell Packer, whom the Knights sacked after he was found guilty of assault in November 2013, also made the team.
Meanwhile, Lantry is unfazed by reports that he will have to reapply for his job next year, despite guiding Newcastle to the NSW Cup title from seventh position.
Incoming coach Nathan Brown has indicated Danny Buderus is the only incumbent assured of a position on his support staff in 2016.
Lantry said he was staying focused on his duties with the NSW Cup team, not his future, "but hopefully that will be sorted out sooner rather than later".
■ Winning the NSW Cup against Wyong on Sunday capped the biggest week of departing Knights playmaker Carlos Tuimavave's life.
The 23-year-old former Warrior missed Newcastle's preliminary final victory over Mounties the previous week because he had rushed home to New Zealand to be with his partner, Susan, for the birth of their first child, Noah.
"Matt Lantry gave me the opportunity to go home and witness the birth of my son, and I can't thank him enough for that," Tuimavave said.
"The boys got up last week and gave me an opportunity to come back and play in a grand final, so I couldn't be happier."
Tuimavave was granted a release after one year of the two-year deal he signed with the Knights so he could take up a three-year contract with English club Hull FC.
"With the birth of my son, this was a good opportunity for me to secure my future financially and playing-wise. I'm a big family and it's all for them," he said. "Opportunities like this don't come around often. I'm grateful for what I have in life."
■ Former Knights teammates Adam Cuthbertson and Zeb Taia were named in the English Super League "Dream Team" this week.
Cuthbertson's selection capped an outstanding first season at Leeds. He was voted player of the year by Leeds fans and helped the Rhinos to a 50-0 flogging of Hull Kingston Rovers in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
The 30-year-old former City Origin forward, who has three more years on his Leeds contract, is in the mix to represent England in a three-Test series against New Zealand this month.
Cuthbertson, who qualifies because his father was born in Warrington, has discussed the prospect of playing for the Poms with England coach Steve McNamara.
Taia, 30, has played the past three seasons at Catalans Dragons since leaving Newcastle at the end of 2012 but will return to the NRL next year to play for the Titans.
■ Channel Nine league reporter and presenter Yvonne Sampson has agonised over who to tip in Sunday's grand final between the Broncos and Cowboys.
Sampson, who finished fourth in her first season as a Newcastle Herald tipster, has settled on a 24-18 Cowboys victory led by Churchill Medallist Johnathan Thurston.
"My head says Broncos, but my heart says Cowboys," Sampson said.
"I was born in Townsville and understand how much it means to the North Queensland and country fans."