HOOKER Travis Waddell is poised to become the first Newcastle player to follow departing coach Wayne Bennett to Brisbane.
Waddell, who is off contract at the end of the season, appears likely to accept a second lifeline from Bennett after the Knights indicated they would not retain him.
Answering questions from supporters on the Knights website yesterday, Bennett was asked whether he would be recruiting any Newcastle players to take to the Broncos.
‘‘There are some young players I brought to the club that will come with me, but that is because the Knights don’t want them,’’ Bennett replied.
‘‘Travis Waddell, the Knights didn’t want him so he is coming with me.
‘‘There were a number of players that came to the Knights because of me.
‘‘While I don’t know what the future holds, I can say it is not my intention to be using Newcastle as a recruiting ground for the Broncos.’’
Waddell, the former Canberra rake, has played in 19 NRL games for the Knights since joining the club at the start of last season.
Unwanted by the Raiders, he was preparing to play for Souths Logan in the Queensland Cup last year before Bennett drafted him as a replacement for injured veteran Danny Buderus.
The 25-year-old, who missed last week’s win against Parramatta through illness, debuted for Canberra as a 19-year-old in 2009 and has appeared in 72 NRL games.
He has been named on the bench for tomorrow’s clash with the Dragons at Hunter Stadium and will share dummy-half duties with Adam Clydsdale.
The other Knights players with whom Bennett has been linked are fullback Darius Boyd, who is negotiating a release, and centre Dane Gagai, who is under contract to Newcastle for next season and said last week: ‘‘I haven’t given any thought about what I’m going to do after that.’’
There has also been speculation controversial prop Russell Packer, who signed a four-year deal with Newcastle but was jailed for 12 months before he could play a game, will follow Bennett north.
Waddell will join Willie Mason, Adam Cuthbertson, Timana Tahu, Josh Mantellato, Matt Minto, Michael Dobson and Anthony Quinn in being farewelled tomorrow.
● The Knights’ ladder-leading National Youth Competition team will play the Dragons in a curtain-raiser at Hunter Stadium from 11.45am tomorrow.
The Knights will be minor premiers if they beat the Dragons or lose by fewer than 19 points.
Newcastle’s NSW Cup team will play Wentworthville Magpies at Leichhardt Oval from 12.40pm today in a qualifying final.
The Knights finished second on the ladder and the Magpies third.