THEY have bolstered their engine-room rotation with three proven imports but the Knights have still found a spot on next season’s roster for home-grown Tyrone Amey.
Amey, the 21-year-old from the Central Coast, made his top-grade debut in the last round of 2017, and created enough of an impression against defending premiers Cronulla to earn a new deal.
The Newcastle Herald understands Amey has agreed to terms for an extra season and will soon put pen to paper.
He will be on deck when Newcastle’s players kick off their 2018 pre-season campaign this week.
After progressing through Newcastle's system from under-16s, to under-18s (as captain), to under-20s, Amey was offered a chance to train with the part-time NSW Cup squad at the end of last year.
But off-season groin surgery meant he did not establish himself in the reserve-grade starting side until mid-season.
His continual improvement culminated in a call-up for Newcastle’s season-ending clash with Cronulla, and in a 32-minute stint off the bench he made 18 tackles, carried the ball 70 metres and produced a try assist with a deft offload for back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon.
Knights coach Nathan Brown said after Amey’s debut he was “outstanding” and “we were really proud of his effort”.
He also indicated the former South Lakes Roosters junior was a player Newcastle would be keen to retain.
“He’s a kid, a bit like Luke Yates, who’s dreamed of playing for the Knights his whole life and … anyone who’s that set on playing for the Knights and that keen on being around the place, we’ve certainly got no issue with Tyrone Amey,” Brown said at the time.
“He’s a good kid, he’s a great trainer and we saw [against Cronulla] what sort of commitment and effort he put in.’’
After juggling his job as a diesel mechanic with his training commitments last season, Amey is expected to focus predominantly on football for the next 12 months.
Even after the departures of Jack Stockwell, Mickey Paea, Josh Starling and Sam Mata’ora, there will be plenty of competition for front-row berths next season.
The Knights have signed Chris Heighington (Cronulla), Jacob Lillyman (Warriors) and Herman Ese’ese (Brisbane).
Twin towers Daniel and Jacob Saifiti and Josh King are all preparing for the third seasons in Newcastle’s top team, while coach Brown has high hopes for 19-year-old L-plater Pasami Saulo, who represented Australian Schoolboys in 2016 and has been serving his apprenticeship in the lower grades.
Newcastle’s players will return to pre-season training in dribs and drabs, starting on Wednesday. Some players will have time off after World Cup commitments, while several of the new recruits are still completing their annual leave after featuring in the 2017 play-offs.
Meanwhile, young Newcastle playmaker Jack Johns suffered a broken arm representing Italy in their series-opening loss to Ireland.