A controversial decision to award the Penrith Panthers a try proved to be the difference against the Newcastle Knights.
This season for the Newcastle Knights has a lot of excitement, expectation, suspense and intensity (sounds like a Stephen King movie) that us fans can look forward to.
To many fans, they have become a second favourite and some daresay a story of resurgence. I see it as a story of rebellion. The Knights (players and coaching staff) have taken more risks then the Jackass crew and just like said crew, it’s paid off.
They have the team on paper but now it’s time for them to show it in the season. It won’t be easy, it won’t be quick, but for the life of me, by the time it’s all said and done it will be worth it.
The Knights have got their share of players/combinations to keep an eye on.
1. Mitchell Pearce, Kalyn Ponga and Connor Watson
I placed all three of these players together as they’re essentially the Knights’ key playmakers. Last year, they played just two whole games together as a trio with two wins. Ponga and Watson may have swapped roles, but they have proven themselves in those roles before.
2. Danny Levi
The heat is on for this guy. He’s earned the starting number nine role despite those like Kurt Mann, Zac Woolford, Slade Griffin (when he’s cleared to return) and those like Jamie Buhrer and Mason Lino nipping at his heels. As a dummy half, his role is to be an aided fourth playmaker to team with his halves and fullback to complete the spine.
He’s a strong defender and can combine with his follow spine members well but his unfortunate weak spot is his white line fever in the later tackles of the set inside the ten.
3. David Klemmer
Before playing his first game for the Knights, he’s already the forward pack leader. His role isn’t just to lead the pack, it’s to help them develop. More so those like the Saifiti twins, James Gavet and Josh King.
Not only will be bringing his ruthless style and aggressive charge to the team, but he’ll also bring it out of his fellow props.
4. Tim Glasby and Aidan Guerra
The former Queensland representatives are set to share the lock forward spot. Both men from northern towns of Queensland share similar paths that ultimately lead to them playing for Newcastle. They will both share co-leadership roles for the second towers of the Knights, particularly Sione Mata’utia, Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Mitchell Barnett.
5. Sione Mata’utia
The lone Knight for the last five years and former Knights captain will return to the second row after playing last season in the centres. From debuting at fullback against the Roosters with a win, then earning an Australian jersey with less than ten games and captaining Newcastle, he’s got ten games to go to accomplish his 100th first grade appearance, one third of his goal to become an unprecedented 300 game Knight and that’s before his 23rd birthday providing no injuries by Round 10.
His role is to show once more why he’s a second rower to be recognised with to add his impact for the Knights.
6. Lachlan Fitzgibbon
One of the best hole running second rowers of the game and I daresay future Knights captain. Fitzgibbon runs with a fearless strike and it usually tends to pay off. This year’s going to be big for him and I’m tipping him to be the Dally M second-rower of the year.