Nathan Brown stands by shock axing of former NSW halfback

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    Nathan Brown has defended his shock axing of Newcastle star Trent Hodkinson, saying it’ll provide a chance to test a new halves combination.

    The halfback – the Knights’ captain and one their highest-paid players – was dropped for Saturday’s NRL clash with North Queensland.

    Coach Brown said Hodkinson’s form was down but his absence would have an added benefit of providing clearer direction in their bid to snare a big name.

    But it’s a curious move given recent failed attempts to sign stars Kieran Foran and Jack Bird – players expected to complement Hodkinson in an inexperienced Knights backline.

    The former NSW No.7 has been replaced by five-game rookie Jaelen Feeney.

    “He’s a touch down on confidence and we’ve got some other options we want to have a look at,” Brown told Sky Sports Radio on Friday.

    “We’ve got a lot of big recruitment decisions we’re in the midst to trying to make.”

    Hodkinson is contracted at Newcastle until the end of 2018 and has been battling an ongoing knee injury.

    The playmaker, who last turned out for NSW in 2015, has been found wanting in defence of late and was exposed again in Newcastle’s last-round 24-6 loss to Sydney Roosters.

    Dane Gagai is a chance to take the captain’s reins.

    Brown is keeping his fingers crossed they finally nab a marquee has he maintains faith once they sign one big-name player, more will follow.

    He said Foran’s family situation prevented the Knights securing the Warrior.

    His wishlist includes two a playmaker, two experience forwards and a tall outside back, with Newcastle reportedly armed more than $1 million to spend under the salary cap

    “We’re certainly showing a bit of money but it doesn’t seem to be working at the moment,” Brown said.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • April 21st 2017 @ 12:41pm
      andrew said | April 21st 2017 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

      I feel for Brown, but there is no way known playing Jaelen Feeney is going to help lure any potential big names to the club?!
      While Feeney’s NRL sample size is small, it is poor and he has done very little at NSW Cup level – not to mention he is more of a 6 than a 7. He succeeded in NYC because of his size and NYC halves aren’t needed to be amazing general play kickers, but these factors change obviously once you are in the open age brackets as a half.

      • April 21st 2017 @ 1:55pm
        Albo said | April 21st 2017 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

        Gotta agree with you Andrew ! Poor Newcastle are really wedged firmly between a rock and a hard place ! They really don’t seem to have a great lot of local talent coming through the grades and they can’t attract any high quality imports to try to rebuild their squad. I would rate only 4 of their current squad being of NRL standard ……Gagai, Ross, Buhrer ( out injured) & Barnett ( currently not doing enough) . They have no spine to excite about for the future, and the rest are Intrust Cup standard or below. But what else can Brown do ? Barring going to England to try to find a few up to NRL standard imports, he can only try to develop some of the locals, even if they are well below par currently. I’m sure Kaylan Ponga must be feeling nervous about his decision right now ?

        • April 21st 2017 @ 2:55pm
          KingCowboy said | April 21st 2017 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

          I feel zero sympathy for the Knights. I hope we put 60 on them but I will take a win by one this week, we just need the win!

        • April 21st 2017 @ 8:34pm
          Jeremy said | April 21st 2017 @ 8:34pm | ! Report

          Lamb is a halfback playing at five eight to accomodate hodko. So feeney slots straight into five eight. The bid to sign bird and Foran was to partner lamb, not hodko. As it is lamb handles most of the kicking duties anyway.

    • April 21st 2017 @ 2:40pm
      Gary Russell-Sharam said | April 21st 2017 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

      MHO is that Brown is doing all he can and having faith that the newbies will learn and the performances will get better as the season progresses.

      He needs time, he is a good coach with skills in man management. Rome wasn’t built in a day and Newcastle will take some time to rebuild.

      Tickner and Bennett did nothing for the team in fact they wrecked the team, now it’s up to Brown to rebuild.

      It takes twice as long to rebuild as to wreck a team so give him some space and he will succeed. Nothing will happen this year, I think that some of the young blokes that he has nurtured this season will start to look good next year and if he recruits well the tide will turn.

      • Roar Guru

        April 21st 2017 @ 10:25pm
        Sleiman Azizi said | April 21st 2017 @ 10:25pm | ! Report

        I agree.

        He did well with Huddersfield in the UK. Turned that club into perennial contenders. However, they seem to have undone a lot of the work he did since the last couple of years – including this one – they have been struggling.

        In anycase, I think Newcastle will be better off in the long run through the work Brown is doing.

        Much respect to him.

    • April 22nd 2017 @ 9:52am
      Stormtrooper2 said | April 22nd 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

      Like to see how Hodkinson performs under Craig Bellamy’s structure at the Storm … need a replacement for Coop’s and a goal kicker when Cam Smith retires.

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