Teenage NRL 'beast' to unleash for Knights

Bradman Best will return from an extended injury lay-off when Newcastle play Gold Coast in the NRL.
Bradman Best will return from an extended injury lay-off when Newcastle play Gold Coast in the NRL.

If you ask his Newcastle teammates, there's a letter missing from the centre of Bradman Best's surname.

The 19-year-old 'beast' will return from ankle surgery against Gold Coast on Friday with coach Adam O'Brien warning the centre can make a statement.

Best missed the first two games of the season, but bottled up all the energy before exploding into round three.

He scored two tries and three tackle busts in the Knights' gutsy 14-all draw with Penrith and O'Brien is expecting more of the same after a seven-week layoff.

"That's Bradman, that's his nature," O'Brien said of his star centre on Thursday.

"He's like that at training and he's like that when he walks through the joint to go to meetings.

"He's focused and determined and I'm looking forward to seeing that.

"We've missed Bradman and it certainly gives the team some confidence when you've got him out wide and as the boys call him, he's a beast.

"He's worked really hard to get back and it'll be good to see him perform."

In nine games this season Best has scored seven tries and set up four others, while averaging more than 150 metres per game.

His return comes as the Knights look to secure their first home final since 2006 against the Titans on Friday.

Hampered by a crippling injury toll for most of the season, Best's addition to the side comes at the right time to create competition for spots - something the Knights need.

O'Brien has been through five different five-eighth options this season after season ending injuries to Connor Watson and Blake Green.

But for now has settled on Mason Lino to partner Mitchell Pearce inn the halves - only after Tex Hoy was ruled out with a hamstring twinge in last week's captain's run.

Mann, who started the season next to Pearce in the halves, has been shifted to hooker.

Lino is off contract at the end of the season but is showing his worth after kicking seven from seven conversions against St George Illawarra last weekend.

And should Hoy be fit for week one of the finals, O'Brien wants to see the competition between the two for the No.6 jersey heat up.

"I just addressed that with the team, guys are playing for spots," he said.

"Certainly Mason playing well this weekend will put a case forward for himself but this is the time of year we want all our guys fighting and doing everything right to get into that team.

"It's the right time of year to be playing footy so you want to give yourself that chance."

Australian Associated Press