Sione Katoa and Chris Smith are set to make their NRL debuts when the Panthers tackle Newcastle Knights at Pepper Stadium on Saturday.

20-year-old hooker Katoa started the year with the Panthers NYC side but has played the majority of the season with the Penrith NSW Cup outfit, and even assumed the captaincy in recent weeks.

A local junior, Katoa has been a member of the Junior Kiwis side for the last two years and in June signed a new two-year deal with the Panthers.

Versatile forward Chris Smith, 21, played with the Panthers NYC side in 2013 and 2014, and has been a consistent performer for the NSW Cup team this season.

The former Australian Schoolboys representative grew up in Darwin and played for Penrith at the 2015 Auckland Nines tournament.