Kalyn Ponga came to the Newcastle Knights in 2018 as an unproven commodity.
With the NRL draw released, a few aspects of the Knights’ draw leapt out.
Newcastle have 20 games in NSW, no encounter in Melbourne, seven matches on Channel Nine and four of their first ten at home.
The Knights are seen as one of the teams with the easiest schedule. I don’t agree. No team has an easy schedule, unless you’re an elite champion team.
Newcastle twice face the Warriors, Tigers, Sharks, Cowboys, Sea Eagles, Panthers, Rabbitohs, Broncos and Bulldogs.
The only teams in that lot the Knights couldn’t beat this season were the Panthers, Sea Eagles and Tigers. All three of them were close losses at home, then big defeats on their turf.
A new attitude and ability to survive the 80 is imperative for Newcastle to finally crack the eight.
The nights have two games on Thursday (both away), two on Friday (one home, one away), ten on Saturday (six home, four away), and ten on Sunday (five home, five away).
Next year, four of the side’s first ten games with be at home – unlike this year, when four of the first five were on home turf but only delivered one win.
The Knights surrendered a few leads in 2019 because they simply let go. That also happened in matches when they were blown off the park late.
Just like every other season, I’m looking forward to 2020 and now the club has a new coach with a winning attitude, our players need to put it on the field.
A message to the fans: in the games the Knights lose, whether a close loss or a savage thrashing, don’t talk about which players are overrated or should be dropped.
Why? They do find out.
Considering the damage Newcastle pulled off this year in the six-match winning streak, a team with a winning attitude all season long could make some serious impact.
I want the fans to show an optimistic spirit for their team and not write them off. You win some, you lose some.
Look at this seasons top eight – the Knights beat the Roosters, Rabbitohs, Eels, Sharks and Broncos. With the right mindset, attitude and preparation, any team can beat anyone on any given day.
That’s just not on the football field, that’s life. You can either sit back and let every opportunity you have slip away or you can take charge to make the most of it.
If you let them pass, you won’t accomplish anything but if you take charge, you can accomplish whatever you want. Sure, Knights fans have been patient for long enough – but it won’t kill you to have some more patience.
So when the season comes, rather than use the whole ‘unproven coach’ nonsense, give the man a chance.
He’s been given huge wraps for his accolades with Melbourne and the Roosters and rightfully so. Our team needs the fans just as much as fans needs them.