Knights rookie in line for NRL call-up

He set the record for most tackles for an NRL player on debut, now Newcastle rookie Chris Randall could be rewarded with his first career start next week.

And his assignment? Facing off against Josh Hodgson.

Randall was one of the heroes in the Knights’ courageous 14-all draw with Penrith on Sunday after tallying a mammoth 60 tackles off the bench in Campbelltown.

His tireless effort typified a Newcastle side that lost key pair Mitchell Pearce (concussion) and Connor Watson (ankle) inside the opening 10 minutes.

Randall was one of three debutants, including fullback Tex Hoy and second-rower Brodie Jones, while centre Bradman Best was playing his third game.

“He was out on his feet for a lot of the game, Randy. He just kept turning up, he’ll never forget his debut,” coach Adam O’Brien said.

“Along with Brodie getting called in late for (Lachlan Fitzgibbon), I thought Tex was really dangerous at the end, I actually wanted him to get more ball.

“I thought he was the one that was really starting to see the game and handle the last 10 minutes of golden point really well for a young man.

“He’s got a big future, Tex.”

Randall could now be called upon to wear the No.9 when the Knights return to Campbelltown to face a red-hot Hodgson and an unbeaten Canberra unit.

The Knights will be sweating on a medical report for Watson, whose ankle turned awkwardly following an attempted tackle on Viliame Kikau.

Watson himself was only starting at hooker after first-choice rake Jayden Brailey tore his ACL prior to the league’s coronavirus-enforced shutdown in round two.

Another option for O’Brien could be veteran Andrew McCullough, who recently joined the club following a mid-season release from Brisbane.

“It’s swollen when I looked at it, his ankle. I’m not too sure,” O’Brien said of Watson’s ankle injury.

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