HE might lack experience and he might lack a high profile, but Chris Randall will lack nothing when it comes to fitness as he prepares to replace Jayden Brailey as the Newcastle Knights' starting hooker. Brailey, who has been rated a State of Origin contender by no less a judge than Danny Buderus, will miss up to half the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon last week in a freak training accident. Randall, the 26-year-old Lakes United junior, has been earmarked to fill the dummy-half vacancy. And while he has only 12 NRL games to his name, seven of which were off the bench, he has been in a league of his own during pre-season training, according to Newcastle's new physical-performance manager Hayden Knowles. Knowles, who has worked at a host of NRL clubs over the past two decades, most recently with premiers Penrith, paid Randall an extraordinary compliment by labelling him the fittest player he has encountered. "Chris Randall will out-work anyone," Knowles told the Newcastle Herald. "I'm not just talking that up. "I've spent the last few years with the Penrith Panthers, where I thought Dylan Edwards was the fittest rugby league player I've ever seen, and the most competitive. "I've never seen anyone beat Dylan Edwards' fitness results, but I've just seen it with Chris Randall. "I just love him. "The way he trains, his work ethic and what it means to him ... he's just so fit. He is so fit. "He stands out. "I can't speak highly enough of him." Randall, who made an NRL-record 71 tackles on debut against the Panthers in 2020, now has a window of opportunity to establish himself while Brailey is sidelined. "I don't think he needed any extra motivation, because he's already so motivated," Knowles said. "It's very unfortunate for Brails, but everybody here has so much trust in Chris Randall. "And trust doesn't come easily. He gives you reason to trust him.'' Knowles dismissed suggestions that Brailey's season might be written off before he had even played a game. "If you do the maths, he's coming back a few months into the season," he said. "Some blokes are back are within five or five-and-a-half months. We still need to get all that confirmed by the surgeons, but he'll be back this year." Brailey was awaiting surgery this week as his teammates travelled by bus for a three-week training camp in Armidale and Gunnedah. "He's just a real pro," Knowles said of the former Cronulla hooker, who was one of Newcastle's co-captains last season. "The poor kid was in tears. It means so much to him. "And I dare say there were a few staff holding back tears too. "Everyone was just shattered for him. "But once you get past that, you just know that he's the most diligent professional and he'll handle it well and be back before you know it."
Yes, yes, yes.
Why would playing him at 6 mean he is "unchained"? Playing 5/8 would have the opposite effect. It's a far more restrictive position than fullbackI hope it's all smoke and mirrors and we do run out with Ponga at 6 and Clifford at 7. The modern game seems like it would suit an unchained Ponga brilliantly. Let's spend our cash on some strike forwards.
Why would playing him at 6 mean he is "unchained"? Playing 5/8 would have the opposite effect. It's a far more restrictive position than fullback
I’d be interested in seeing stats on tackles made on average for 5/8ths vs fullbacks….being in the front line….I would have thought way more….but I guess defensively, fullbacks have to do a lot more roaming so they can predict which direction the play is goingThat's what I used to think but recently, I've begun to think it's not true.
The modern fullback is all about workload. They support every play, they are expected to make 200m plus a game and that's on top of all their defensive duties (including coaching from the back). The modern fullback is Tedesco, Turbo, Mitchell, that Parra lad. It's all about having superhuman levels of physical stamina and workload. That's not Ponga. I think it's draining too much energy from Ponga's game and reducing his effectiveness.
I think if he plays at 6, he doesn't need to stick to the left like halves did a decade ago. He should roam left and right and try to get the ball in his hands at least 3 times every set, even if it's just to pass it along to a forward. Also, defensively, his workload would be reduced dramatically, which should help him use more energy in attack.
You don't think so?