Darius Boyd deal crucial to Knights’ new crew

GOODNIGHT: Darius Boyd won’t be in Knights livery much longer. DARIUS Boyd is expected to be an ex-Newcastle Knight before the end of the week, sparing him from joining them at pre-season training on Monday and freeing him to link with Brisbane.

Knights chief executive Matt Gidley was reluctant to comment yesterday, other than to confirm there have been further negotiations with Boyd’s management and he was hopeful of a resolution ‘‘within coming days’’.

Asked whether Boyd would be required at training on Monday if no release had been granted, Gidley replied: ‘‘We’re working through that.’’

The Test and Queensland representative has appeared certain to part company with Newcastle since a much-reported dispute over a $200,000 shortfall in his salary, widely attributed to a defunct third-party sponsorship.

He has one more year to run on his deal with the Knights but has a contractual option in his favour that entitles him to a release.

After the return of his long-time mentor Wayne Bennett to Brisbane, it has been seemingly inevitable that Boyd would follow him, but his management have been at loggerheads with the Knights for the past two months, seeking a parting payout.

Reaching a settlement with Boyd is crucial for Newcastle because their hopes of retaining and signing other players hinge on the cash his departure would free up.

Experienced Knights forwards Chris Houston and David Fa’alogo remain out of contract and in limbo.

Fa’alogo is on duty with the Samoan side at the Four Nations tournament but Houston’s appearance at training on Monday is likely to depend on whether he has re-signed.

The Knights are also poised to announce the signing of young prop Jack Stockwell from St George Illawarra.

Newcastle’s pre-season preparations will be overseen by English sports science expert Colin Sanctuary, who for the past two years has headed the club’s junior high-performance unit.

Sanctuary will replace Jeremy Hickmans, who has followed Bennett back to Brisbane.

Meanwhile, Bennett has continued his cleanout at the Broncos with front-rowers Martin Kennedy and David Hala released from their existing contracts.

The Broncos announced on Wednesday that Kennedy, who arrived at Red Hill 12 months ago as a big-money recruit, and bench weapon Hala were permitted to seek out new deals with rival clubs.

Kennedy is reportedly eyeing a return to the Sydney Roosters, and is also in English Super League sights, while the Gold Coast Titans are interested in signing Hala.

‘‘Both Martin Kennedy and Dave Hala have been given permission to explore other options through a mutually-agreed release requested by their respective managements,’’ the Broncos said.

The news, which further depletes the Broncos already-thin forward stocks, comes as Brisbane prepare to start their 2015 pre-season training under Bennett next week.

Brisbane have lost representative prop Ben Hannant to North Queensland, while fullbacks Josh Hoffman and Ben Barba may also move on to make room for Boyd.

The Broncos have added former Melbourne Storm player Mitch Garbutt and ex-Wests Tiger James Gavet to their forwards with least another signing expected to beef up the pack. – with AAP

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