Newcastle Knights star tipped to make shock switch to NRL rivals

Michael Holland

Newcastle forward Mitch Barnett could be set for a surprise switch to the New Zealand Warriors following reports the Knights will not stand in his way.

Barnett has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons this week. He has just copped a six-game ban from the judiciary following his high shot on Penrith’s Chris Smith. Now it is claimed he could soon be heading to the Warriors.

In his pre-match press conference Knights coach Adam O’Brien said he was already looking forward to getting him back. O’Brien said Barnett could put the time to good use by getting a solid block of training in.

Barnett missed a spell in pre-season and O’Brien said now was the time to get it back. He did not sound like a coach planning for life without his forward.

Barnett in demand

However if reports in the Daily Telegraph are to be believed that could be the case. Barnett is under contract until the end of 2023 but he may be on the move before then.

The reports claim that a host of NRL clubs have been showing an interest. Indeed the player’s agent is already said to have held talks with one or two clubs.

The Warriors have emerged as the favourites to do a deal should Barnett be allowed to leave. Warriors coach Nathan Brown seems to be the key and Barnett wants a reunion.

Brown was of course coach of Newcastle in 2016 and played a big role in luring Barnett. Talks are said to have been going on for a while and the Knights will not stand in the player’s way.

Despite Barnett’s disciplinary issues the Warriors have not been put off. It is thought a three-year deal is on the table from the start of the 2023 NRL campaign.

Newcastle need a replacement

If Barnett does leave early then the Knights will have a big hole to fill. But at least they will have between now and the end of the season to find a replacement.

Brodie Jones is one long-term option within the Knights ranks. Jones returns to action after recovering from injury and Covid. It could not be more timely and he will slot straight in and replace Barnett.

Jones is just 23 and has a very bright future. O’Brien spoke glowingly about his professionalism and he is a player that can step up.

The Knights are in action when they take on Cronulla on Friday and Jones will get the chance to shine.