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Bradman Best will direct his new management team to open extension talks with Newcastle as early as this week in the hope of inking a long-term deal with his junior club before he hits the open market on November 1.
Best has been in superb form since making a surprise NSW Origin debut six weeks ago, culminating in a comprehensive one-on-one win over South Sydney star Campbell Graham – one of the NRL’s best defensive centres – on Sunday.
The 22-year-old comes off contract next season and is already set to have his current salary of around $500,000 bumped up toward $700,000 – making him one of the highest-paid centres in the game.
Best’s two-try Blues debut and impressive performances since has put him on the radar of rival clubs beyond 2024.
But the Newcastle junior has made clear his priority is to remain in the Hunter, a prospect the club has been waiting on as Best links with Warrick Wright’s Black Money Enterprises management team.
Clinton Schifcofske, Best’s previous agent, confirmed the 90-day period players must wait before employing a new manager had passed. Best now joins the stable that represents Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker and Jack Wighton.
Happy days: Bradman Best celebrates one of two tries during his Origin debut.Credit: Getty
“I’m officially done with my old manager coming up this week,” Best said. “I can’t talk to anyone at the moment but I’m keen to stay here.
“I’ve been a junior and come through here my whole life. What we’re doing this year is really special. We’ve got some big players, this club’s going somewhere and I obviously want to win a comp here.
“When November 1 comes, hopefully the club’s keen to re-sign me, and hopefully, I can get that done as soon as possible.”
Newcastle have juggled a tight salary cap in recent times, prompting suggestions Best and fellow NSW representative Daniel Saifiti could be moved on to ease cap pressure.
Coach Adam O’Brien and football director Peter Parr assured Best midway through the season that was not the case.
They have been repaid with career-best form, particularly in defence, which has coincided with the club’s seven-game winning streak.
Best’s self-belief has steadily grown this season and he was helped in Blues camp by the faith of Brad Fittler and tutelage of veteran half Cody Walker.
“I love it. Doubt me more and I’ll show you, that just adds fire to the belly,” Best said of his critics. “I think I probably relied on others to believe in me. It wasn’t until the start of this year that [belief] came from within. Once I started doing that and playing good footy week-in, week-out, it flowed from there.
“I looked at myself and just really knew that I had it. There were plenty of doubters [regarding his Origin selection]. Plenty of haters and we were going in there 2-0 down as well. We were playing at home and knew we had to front up, but it’s the same here in clubland.
“We get 20-30,000 turning up each week and you don’t want to let them down. It’s a really proud community … so it’s been a real thing for us to win at home this year and I think we’ve done a good job so far.”
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