The Knights are ramping up their pursuit of a former Eel turned Super League try-scoring sensation whose arrival could also spark a positional switch for a Newcastle star.
Newcastle are circling Super League try-scoring machine Bevan French.
News Corp has learned the Knights are closing in on French, who is keen to return to Australia next season.
Wigan are resigned to losing French, who has been a revelation at the club this year. He scored a Super League record seven tries during Wigan’s 60-0 win against Hull FC last month.
The former Parramatta outside back is off-contract at season’s end and has been craving an NRL return.
It seems like Newcastle are primed to pounce. He gives the club some much needed back-up to fullback Kalyn Ponga and could push for a starting wing spot.
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Newcastle have a host of players leaving at the end of the season. Back-up fullback Tex Hoy (Hull FC) and winger Edrick Lee (Dolphins) won’t be at the Knights next year.
If French does shine it also opens up the door for Ponga to switch into the halves should Newcastle fail to solve their halves dilemma.
As it stands, Newcastle are reluctant to move Ponga into the halves at this stage of his career.
French was a try-scoring machine during his time at Parramatta. The 26-year-old played 47 top grade games at the Eels between 2016-18 where he crossed 35 times.
He wanted to return to the NRL this year, but the comeback did not happen despite meeting Parramatta and Canterbury officials. Instead he returned to Wigan and has set the competition alight.
He has switched between fullback and wing, scoring 24 tries from 18 games, including scoring at least a treble in three matches.
The Knights have signed forwards Jack Hetherington (Bulldogs) and Adam Elliott (Raiders) from next season and remain on the lookout to add a marquee half into the squad.
They have continuously been linked to Wests Tigers halfback Luke Brooks.
Newcastle have also added Super League duo Will Pryce and Kai Pearce-Paul for 2024.
Originally published as NRL market watch: Newcastle Knights circling Bevan French for return to NRL