KNIGHTS coach Adam O'Brien remains confident luckless centre Bradman Best will enjoy a long and successful NRL career despite facing another injury-enforced hiatus.
Best suffered a dislocated elbow in last week's 36-12 loss to Brisbane, which is expected to sideline him for between four and six weeks.
Still yet to turn 21, Best has endured a horrendous run, dating back to even before he made his NRL debut as an 18-year-old prodigy in 2019.
He has already undergone seven operations on his feet and ankles, including five syndesmosis (high ankle sprain) repairs, one on his thumb, as well as a shoulder reconstruction.
His elbow will not require surgery but he faces a month of intense physio before he is cleared to resume.
O'Brien said on Thursday "Bradman doesn't know the meaning of pain", but the coach admitted it was a concern that such a young player had been dealt so many cruel body blows.
"Yeah, I do worry about it," O'Brien said.
"Any time you've got any of the players coming back from surgeries, it's not a nice time for them.
"Hopefully he's ticked them all off and we don't have to worry about it.
"But look, he is a strong kid, physically and mentally.
He is a strong kid, physically and mentally.- ADAM O'BRIEN
"He's come back from stuff before. The elbow is just an incident from the game that he may never, ever be in that situation again.
"I certainly know that he's got a long career ahead of him. He's not showing any signs that the surgeries or setbacks are getting to him."
O'Brien was optimistic Best would make the most of his time out.
"It's a chance to grow," he said. "Same as the team.
"We're going through this losing slump, and you can sit there and feel sorry for yourself or you can really look inwards at things we can get better at.
"Bradman will get a chance over the next four weeks at getting better at the sport, rather than just being out there doing physical stuff."
The injury has curtailed Best's longest uninterrupted stretch in the NRL. Saturday's clash with the Warriors at Redcliffe will be the first game the 2018 Australian Schoolboys representative has missed this season.
"Fortunately it [the elbow] went back in quickly, which is always a good sign," O'Brien said.
"So it doesn't require surgery. It's a healing thing, so anywhere from the four- to six-week mark.
"But Bradman being Bradman, nothing will surprise me if it's sooner."
Meanwhile, O'Brien has explained his decision to recall Jake Clifford to halfback at the expense of Adam Clune.
Clifford was dropped after the 50-2 hammering from Melbourne on May 1 and rested to deal with personal issues. He returned in NSW Cup last weekend.
Clune, meanwhile, scored the match-sealing try in Newcastle's 16-6 win against Canterbury two weeks ago and produced a try assist against the Broncos, but was also responsible for six missed tackles.
O'Brien said a knee injury Clune sustained against Manly almost two months ago was still hindering him.
"The management of Adam's knee is still not where we need it," O'Brien said.
"It's still popping up in games and in training. It's giving him a little bit of grief.
"But there's a bye next week, so there's an extended period now if we bite the bullet where we can give him two or three weeks to really settle it."
O'Brien added that Clifford "played himself back into the team" with his performance in NSW Cup.
"It hasn't been a Band-Aid fix," he said. "We've allowed enough time for him to really focus on the stuff that he needed to."
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