When the first ‘team list Tuesday’ rolls around this year, the Newcastle Knights will be one of the more interesting teams to watch out for. They’ve recruited so much talent, are set for key positional changes, and there are plenty of spots up for grabs.

Up to five players are in contention to be the starting hooker while Kalyn Ponga has been confirmed to be changing positions this year.

It will also be interesting to see where high profile recruits such as Jesse Ramien, David Klemmer, Tim Glasby and Edrick Lee will fit in.

Newcastle legend and Blues assistant coach Danny Buderus goes through all the scenarios and tries to answer some of the questions.

HOOKER

There’s nobody better person to try and solve the mysterious hooker puzzle than Newcastle’s greatest ever No.9.

New Zealand international Danny Levi has been at the club for a while now since he played hooker in the Knights’ second-tier premiership in 2015.

Jamie Buhrer and new recruit Kurt Mann are also in contention, but both are versatile options with the ability to play in other positions.

Zac Woolford is a young gun brought to the club from the Bulldogs that like Levi won the second-tier premiership at No.9 last year and also represented the NSW Under-20s.

Mason Lino is a halfback, but remains an outside chance to play hooker at some stage should Nathan Brown want him somewhere in the starting 17.

“Danny Levi has trained great apparently,” Buderus told NSWRL.com.au.

“He’s been leading a lot of things, this will be his fourth pre season now so he should be up the front doing most things pretty well, which hookers need to be doing.

“Levi is getting pushed along the way; Zac Woolford is just looking for an opportunity to get a crack, he’s been playing in the lower grades for a number of years now.

“Kurt Mann has been brought to the club to play multiple positions and will look to play No.9 in the future, but with [the Knights’] shortage of outside backs he might get a bit of time there.

“You’ve also got Jamie Buhrer there, so they have got a number of options.”

PONGA-WATSON SWITCH

It has been confirmed that housemates Connor Watson and Kalyn Ponga will switch numbers for the 2019 season.

Watson played four games at fullback when he played for the Roosters, which was a period where he played well, particularly in a game against Melbourne at AAMI Park.

It may seem like a risk to move Ponga from the position he shone in last year, but Buderus doesn’t believe his game will change significantly as opposed to Watson, who he hopes will thrive at the back.

“Kalyn will play well wherever he stands on the footy field, that’s first and foremost,” Buderus said.

“When he plays over the advantage line he’s got the ability to beat people on the outside and he can do that as a natural No.6.

“You’ll see a bit of evolving in the No.6 and No.1, I think you’ll see them both playing like halves.

“A lot of coaches have been working hard with a lot of attacking part of the game with a fullback and five-eighth and how you can get them to swing together.

“Connor Watson doesn’t have to do anything other than play his natural game, that’s the first thing I’m sure he’s getting told.

“His natural game is being a runner, support, play his fitness, his high work rate and that’s all his coach would want.”

BACKLINE

Jesse Ramien will play right centre for the Knights, and before David Klemmer came along he was certainly their biggest signing of the year.

While Buderus admits the Knights don’t have the most depth in the outside backs, he’s thrilled to see some big bodies with plenty of skill there

“Outside backs we’re probably still a bit skinny there but at the same time they’re big outside backs.

“I think the first thing that Nathan Brown thought of when he walked into that place going back three years ago was how he wanted some bigger outside backs.

“He’s identified that quickly and if you look what’s going to run out Round One you’ve got Edrick Lee, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Jesse Ramien.

“Jesse Ramien is just a powerfully built, well-balanced, young and hungry sort of payer so we’re privileged to have him up there in this period of his career.

“He just had a breakout season last year and he gets to do it all again so he’s pretty simple from a point of view of making his decisions on the field he’s got good footwork it all comes down to that personal skill that he does possess.

“He’s living in the central coast, his daughter is there as well, so he’s happy, and you’ll see that come out in his footy.

“He’ll fit in really well and he’ll hit the ground running pretty easily.”