FORMER Knights NSW Cup halfback Adrian Davis will be reunited with Will Smith at Penrith next year, hoping to experience the same good fortune as his former Newcastle teammate.
Davis, who played for Redcliffe Dolphins in the Queensland Cup this year, has signed a one-year second-tier deal with the Panthers.
He will team up with Smith in the halves for the reigning NSW Cup premiers under the guidance of their former Knights National Youth Cup coach Garth Brennan.
‘‘Garth was my coach at the Knights a couple of years ago and he was looking for a half and my name popped up,’’ Davis said. ‘‘I played with Will at the Knights under Garth and I’ll be living with Will and his family down there until I get myself sorted. Me and Will are very close.’’
Smith joined Penrith’s NRL squad in August after halfback Peter Wallace suffered a season-ending knee injury.
At five-eighth alongside Jamie Soward, he played in Penrith’s last eight games, including the preliminary final loss to Canterbury and qualifying final victory over the Roosters.
With the blessing of Panthers NRL coach Ivan Cleary and general manager of football Phil Gould, Brennan signed Davis to bolster their halves.
‘‘There’s an opportunity for him at Penrith to back himself similar to what Will Smith has done,’’ Brennan said.
‘‘I’ve coached ‘AJ’ in the past and I’ve always had a big rap on him. I’ve recommended him to Ivan a few times over the past few years so Ivan’s seen him play and also likes him.
‘‘I thought he was really dominant playing NSW Cup in the past few years for the Knights and playing NSW Residents, and he had a good year in the Q Cup this year with Redcliffe.
‘‘He’s still young with plenty to offer, he’s a good talker, a good kicker, and can steer a team around the park.’’
Tom Humble and Luke Capewell were Penrith’s halves in their 48-12 win over the Knights in the NSW Cup grand final at Allianz Stadium on September 28, and in their 32-28 loss to Northern Pride in the national club championship at ANZ Stadium.
Humble has joined new Queensland Cup club Townsville Blackhawks and Capewell is expected to return to his junior club Redcliffe, effectively replacing Davis.
‘‘Losing Tom and Luke in my team opens up opportunities that I hope ‘AJ’ can take. He was my only signing request to Gus and Ivan, who were both happy to support me on it,’’ Brennan said.
A Kempsey product and Wests Rosellas junior, 24-year-old Davis is desperate to play in the NRL but knows he will start the season behind Soward, Wallace, Smith and Isaac John, who is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon.
‘‘I just need a bit of an opportunity. You never know what’s going to happen but I’m still chasing a dream,’’ Davis said. ‘‘I’ve got four halfbacks in front of me there ... I just need that slight break to try to better myself.
‘‘I know if I play some good footy there, and if a couple of injuries might come about, Garth wouldn’t hesitate to put a good word in for me ... You’ve got to be in the right place at the right time, and hopefully that might be the case for me one day.’’
Davis played five-eighth for the Rosellas in their 2011 Newcastle grand final loss to Maitland. In 2013 he was one of five Knights players to represent the NSW Cup representative team.
Before linking with Redcliffe, he captained the First Nation Goannas in a trial against a Knights side led by his cousin Tyrone Roberts.
Though Redcliffe finished well out of the finals in 11th position, Davis was Queensland Cup’s fifth-highest scorer with a total of 144 points from three tries and 66 goals.
‘‘As a club, I couldn’t fault them. They look after you, do anything for you, and they’re great people running the club,’’ Davis said. ‘‘But I had to get out to get another opportunity because the Broncos are full and they can pick from all those Brisbane clubs, so I had to get out and explore other opportunities.’’