Overnight wrap: Knights, Broncos, Cowboys

Former Newcastle halfback Matthew Rodwell believes new Knights No.7 Jarrod Mullen has all the attributes to be a star for the club.

Newcastle's first big test of the post Andrew Johns era comes on Sunday when they play South Sydney in Gosford, Mullen the man entrusted to replace Johns at halfback. Rodwell, the last Newcastle halfback before Johns made the spot his own, says fans shouldn't expect the 20-year-old Mullen to be another Andrew Johns.

Rodwell says it could take up to two years for Mullen to realise his potential but claims he has the talent to succeed at the top level.

Brisbane are poised to unveil the first of several re-signings next week, but international centre Brent Tate is unlikely to be one of them.

Tate is one of five internationals along with Petero Civoniceva, Justin Hodges, Shaun Berrigan and Sam Thaiday coming off contract at the end of the season. Rugby Union have already made overtures to Tate with the Origin and Test star linked to the struggling Queensland Reds Super 14 franchise.

Heading north, and Brisbane chief executive Bruno Cullen says he wants to get tomorrow night's blockbuster with the Gold Coast Titans out of the way before zeroing in on player contracts next week.

Further a-field, North Queensland second rower Luke O'Donnell may have played his last game for the Cowboys with the Test forward to undergo season-ending surgery today. MRI scans show the 26-year-old's left hamstring had detached itself from the pelvis following a gang tackle gone wrong against Wests Tigers on Saturday.

He is no chance of returning to the playing field in 2007. Off contract at the end of the year, O'Donnell has already been testing his value on the open market and is believed to be keen for a return to Sydney.

Manly have earmarked the NSW backrower as a key signing while Penrith have made it known they want to attract the two best players on the open market.

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