THE Knights plan to fast-track negotiations to keep hooker Chad Redman in his home town after his dream debut against Wests Tigers at Hunter Stadium last Sunday.
Filling in for the injured Adam Clydsdale, Redman scored from dummy-half in the 77th minute to seal a 22-12 win and has retained his place on the bench for the game against Brisbane at Hunter Stadium on Monday night.
The born-and-bred Novocastrian is off contract at the end of the season but his preference is to stay at the club he has represented since he was 15. The Knights are just as keen to keep him.
Coached by Rick Stone in the club's NSW Cup side for the past two years, the enthusiastic Western Suburbs Rosellas junior was judged Players' Player of the Year last season.
Knights director of football Michael Hagan hopes to kick off negotiations with the 22-year-old former Australian Schoolboys representative in the next few weeks.
"Chad is someone who we've talked about as part of our retention plan for next year," Hagan told the Newcastle Herald on Tuesday night.
"Last Sunday was also part of that assessment as far as him being really good at that NSW Cup level, and everyone was keen to see how he handled the next step up.
"He handled it extremely well, so I guess that might expedite things a little bit more. That's a good position for him to be in, given that he's had to be patient and back himself."
Redman is managed by Andrew Woolnough, who also represents Clydsdale and utility Tyler Randell. Clydsdale is contracted until the end of 2016 and Randell signed a two-year extension in March, securing him until the end of 2017.
"The ball's in the Knights' court now," Woolnough said. "Chad has now been announced to the NRL as someone that's capable of playing at that level, and he certainly wasn't out of his depth.
"So the longer that he's in first grade, as Chad said, he's putting himself in the shop window with every performance.
"We haven't even spoken to another club yet. Our priority is for him to stay in Newcastle, and anyone who saw him on the coverage last Sunday or heard him interviewed since then knows how passionate he is about Newcastle . . . "
Clydsdale's fitness will be monitored at training this week but Redman was excited about the prospect of playing a second straight NRL game.
"I threw my hat in the ring," Redman said of his debut against the Tigers.
"I'm sort of preparing to go back to NSW Cup this weekend. Adam's been great for two years now, so he deserves his spot back, but if he's not right, I'm there."
Stone said Redman looked comfortable and composed at training last week after being told he would replace Clydsdale, and carried that confidence into the game against the Tigers.
"Everyone's really proud and happy for Chad. He's a really popular member of our crew and he's been working hard for a long time in our system," Stone said.
"He's been the heart and soul of the team that I've coached the last couple of years in reserve grade, and he was our Players' Player of the Year last year in reserve grade. You could see the reaction from the rest of the boys when he did score that try how popular he is."
Stone named former Junior Kiwis representative Joseph Tapine to replace NSW back-rower Beau Scott, who will be absent on State of Origin duty.