Could the boom on powerhouse centre Bradman Best be any bigger right now?
Following his barnstorming return from foot surgery, Best has been the name on everyone's lips since the competition resumed after the COVID-19 shutdown.
Four tries in two games only partly does his contributions against Penrith and the Canberra Raiders justice.
Against the Raiders for instance, not only did he score a double, he ran for 166 metres from 15 carries of the footy, had two try assists, six tackle busts and made 24 tackles.
According to the Telstra tracker, Best hit speeds of 20 kmph or more on 33 separate occasions against Canberra, the most of any player in the competition last weekend.
Remember, this kid is just 18 and has played only five NRL games.
No surprise then the Knights have already initiated early talks in a bid to extend his contract at the club.
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Best is already signed until the end of 2022 but despite some injury concerns over the past few seasons, the Knights want to take that out even further amid whispers of a rival Sydney club quietly inquired about his contract status last week.
"We'd sign him up for life if we could,"Knights CEO Phil Gardner told us this week.
"We'd certainly like to extend him further if we can. He fits the bill for us. He's a local, he is a wonderful young man and he is a fantastic player."
Gardner indicated another young star on the Knights' retention radar is Tex Hoy, who is currently tied up until the end of next season.
Rival clubs will be able to officially talk to Hoy in November about 2022 so the club wants him sorted out well before then.
Dally M rookie
Still on Best, if you were still allowed to bet on the Dally M awards, you can bet your life the young powerhouse would already be a short-priced favourite to win the Rookie of the Year.
Best played three games at the end of last season which, a few years back, would have ruled him ineligible for the award this year.
But after doing some digging, we discovered he is now still in the running. The current rule says he would have needed to have played five games in 2019 to be ineligible for this year's rookie's medal.
Mitchell Pearce is 31 and has played 281 NRL games but the Knights skipper is showing no signs of slowing up.
Pearce, who will marry fiance Kristin Scott in late December, is a Knight until the end of 2021 but has already been told by club officials they want to extend him for a further two years after that.
Aside from his great team management skills, Pearce is a natural when it comes to fitness and leads the way in that department at just about every training session, even against players 10 years his junior.
Against the Raiders last Sunday, the Knights halfback clocked up 9.6 kms during the 80 mins, more than any other player in the competition in round four. Little wonder he struggled with cramp and seized up during the three hour bus trip home from Campbelltown.
If Pearce agrees to a two year extension, that will take him through until the end of 2023 where at almost 35, he'll be weighing up whether to hang up the boots. By then, the Knights believe they will have a ready-made replacement in their ranks - Phoenix Crossland or highly regarded teenager Jonah Pezet, son of former recruitment boss Troy Pezet.
Kalyn Ponga's new headgear sponsor Madison got plenty of value for money when the Knights star paraded it for the first time during his irrepressible performance against the Canberra Raiders last Sunday at Campbelltown.
Ponga parted company with Steeden at the end of last season and we're told he has signed a lucrative eight year deal with Madison, with the flashy red and blue headgear worn by the brilliant young fullback set to be a real collectors item when crowds are back and he can start to giving them away again after games.
Madison chased Ponga as their ambassador following the retirement of former North Queensland Cowboys skipper Johnathan Thurston.
Fans back for Knights
More than 8000 fans could be watching Knights games at McDonald Jones Stadium from early July after Prime Minister Scott Morrison's announcement yesterday about easing COVID-19 health restrictions at sports stadiums.
Knights boss Phil Gardner told the Newcastle Herald this week he was lobbying the NRL and Venues NSW to have the club's round 9 game against Parramatta on July 12 moved from Gosford back to Newcastle.
He may not have to twist too many arms now given yesterday's developments and it could come down to a negotiation between the Knights and Venues NSW about stadium hire costs with a significantly reduced crowd.
This latest move by the Federal government still has to be endorsed by the NSW Premier with the NRL certain to be pushing hard for it.
The Prime Minister says grounds of up to 40,000 capacity should be permitted to open their gates to up to 25 percent of that number "sometime in July" and still meet social distancing requirements.
On that basis, McDonald Jones Stadium, with a capacity of 33,000, will be able to accomodate 8,250 fans. That's 3,236 more than Gosford's Central Coast Stadium will be permitted with a capacity of just over 20,000.
Given his strong stance on getting fans back and finally having bums on seats, we can't see ARL Commission boss Peter V'landys denying more than 3000 supporters the chance to see the Knights in action against the Eels.
We're told the switch may all hinge on how big a hire fee Venues NSW ask for.
There is a growing feeling in the NRL that the coach who manages his roster the best over the next 16 rounds will go along way to winning the premiership.
With no byes or breaks for representatives matches during the season, teams are facing 18 straight weeks of footy leading into the play-offs.
When to give your main stars a freshen up and when to strategically rotate players in and out are questions all coaches will face at some point with the aim of making the finals and being as healthy as possible when you get there.
Coaches will also have to factor in the realisation that squad players who are not featuring in the 17 each week are not getting a game at all so you run the risk of having to expose them at some stage with next to no footy under their belts.
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