KNIGHTS coach Nathan Brown has spoken to his Huddersfield counterpart, Rick Stone, as the prospect of a player trade between the two clubs grows more likely.
Newcastle have signed Huddersfield utility Joe Wardle to a deal starting in 2018, but are keen to expedite his arrival.
For that to happen, the Giants would need to agree an early release, which they would appear more likely to consider if Newcastle were able to send a player, or players, in exchange.
As Brown’s predecessor, Stone knows most of Newcastle’s players personally and there has been speculation he has expressed interest in the likes of fullback Jake Mamo, hooker Tyler Randell, prop Jack Stockwell and even five-eighth Jarrod Mullen.
Stone’s bargaining power increased last week when Huddersfield won a crucial play-off game that confirmed they would not be relegated from Super League.
Brown said it would not be appropriate to reveal names but confirmed preliminary discussions had taken place.
“It was just a brief chat, about two weeks ago,’’ Brown said.
“We didn’t go into any depth but Stoney mentioned one player in particular, who I shouldn’t mention publicly, but he was definitely very interested in him. I’ve heard rumours they may be interested in another two [Knights], but Stoney hasn’t said anything to me about them.’’
Mamo, who has played 29 games for Newcastle and has one season to run on his contract, would appear the most likely candidate to consider a fresh start in England after a disappointing 2016 campaign in which he played only 13 games.
Brown has a high regard for Wardle, who he coached at Huddersfield in 2011 and 2012.
The 25-year-old is capable of playing centre or back row.
“At the moment he’s contracted to Huddersfield, but he’s certainly someone we’d like to bring out earlier if that option became available,’’ Brown said.
Brown was confident North Queensland hooker Rory Kostjacyn and Manly utility Jamie Buhrer would both sign with Newcastle, although he added that neither was “100 per cent finalised’’.
He said the Knights would “have to wait and see what unfolds over the next week” with regards to another target, Titans veteran Greg Bird, who is being investigated by the NRL integrity unit for two off-field incidents.