TWO years after emerging as one of New Zealand's most promising prospects, back-rower David Bhana is set to join the Knights in search of a fresh start.
In 2013, Bhana captained the Junior Kiwis in a 38-26 Test loss to the Junior Kangaroos, just weeks after he skippered the Warriors under 20s to a 42-30 defeat in the National Youth Competition grand final against Penrith.
He was named on the bench in the NYC 2013 team of the year, which also included the likes of Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Luke Brooks, Bryce Cartwright, Jake Trbojevic, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Michael Lichaa.
Described as the "next Simon Mannering" by New Zealand media because of his high defensive work rate, Bhana has spent the past two years in the Warriors' NRL squad.
But the closest he came to a top-grade debut was being named several times on an extended bench.
The 22-year-old, who stands 183 centimetres tall and weighs 96 kilograms, told New Zealand's Maori Television on Wednesday that he would be playing next season with Newcastle, along with a former Warriors NYC teammate, halfback Sam Cook.
"It was a hard decision, but I had to think about my family," Bhana was quoted as saying. "That's just how professional footy is.
"They've been doing a lot of recruiting in the off-season.
"They didn't have a good 2015, so I'm excited about the rebuild."
Bhana and Cook are former teammates and childhood friends of Newcastle's NSW Cup prop James Taylor.
New Knights coach Nathan Brown said last month that the club had "a little bit" of room to move under the salary cap and were looking to recruit a prop and an outside back.
Since then they have released hooker Adam Clydsdale to Canberra but are yet to supplement their ranks with any imports boasting first-grade experience.
As well as Bhana and Cook, the only other player the Knights are reported to have signed is 20-year-old five-eighth Will Pearsall from Manly. Yet to appear in the NRL, Pearsall captained Manly's under 20s last season and played junior football for The Entrance.
Brown may have further funds to bolster his roster if former NSW Origin winger James McManus is forced to retire. McManus, who has one season to run on his contract, has been weighing up his options after a series of concussions caused him to miss the last six games of Newcastle's 2015 campaign.
Newcastle's two main recruits for 2016, halfback Trent Hodkinson (Canterbury) and prop Mickey Paea (Hull FC), were both signed before former coach Rick Stone was sacked in July.
Stone also signed veteran back-rower Todd Lowrie, but it is understood Lowrie is considering retiring from playing so he can take on the position of Newcastle's under-20s coach.