Unheralded rookie Dylan Phythian has emerged as a shock leading contender to wear the Newcastle No.1 jersey this NRL season.
Phythian has been named by coach Nathan Brown at fullback for the club’s final trial against Canberra in Queanbeyan on Saturday.
A half during his junior playing days, Phythian made his NRL debut during the Knights’ final two games of last year.
Brown called Phythian up because of a back injury to Danny Levi and had no other option for the interchange role.
The 21-year-old did his future no harm when he scored with one of his first touches, against South Sydney in round 25.
Jake Mamo’s exit to England opened up the door for Phythian to elbow his way into the Knights’ starting backline and he could sew up the role ahead of Peter Mata’utia, who has been named on the wing, with a strong performance against Newcastle.
The Knights have signed North Queensland whiz kid Kalyn Ponga for the 2018 season and he shapes as the club’s long-term fullback.
Phythian has come under the tutelage of Knights assistant Mick Potter who is teaching him the finer points of No.1.
Brock Lamb appears to have his nose in front for the five-eighth spot following Jarrod Mullen’s preliminary drugs suspension.
He has been named at No.6 alongside Trent Hodkinson while Ken Sio and Manly recruits Josh Starling and Jamie Buhrer have been named for their first starts in their new colours.