This is the seventh article in a series naming each club’s best team of loyal stalwarts. Not necessarily just one-club players, but those who turned out for the club over a long period and helped build its success and culture.
The Knights in 2019 were in the top four for some time.
Towards the back end of the year they lost multiple games in a row which ended up in them missing the eight and Nathan Brown being sacked as coach.
The Knights used four different five-eighths in 2019 with Kalyn Ponga starting the season at five-eighth but ended up moving back to fullback.
Kurt Mann is not a pivot but played some games wearing the six and Mason Lino played multiple games there, but I think Connor Watson was the best at six out of the lot.
Watson is not a five-eighth but he is a utility to replace Jayden Brailey in the last 20 minutes.
The Knights’ main problem in 2019 was their creativity but they may have solved that in 2020 which will make them a lot better.
They have two players in mind to play five-eighth in the form of Tex Hoy and Phoenix Crossland but I feel that Hoy has a better chance of partnering Pearce in 2020.
Phoenix Crossland showed a bit of ability in the halves but it’s hard to go pass Tex Hoy after his very dominant Nines series in Perth.
The Knights are full of Origin and international stars and I expect them to really challenge for those top four spots.
Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga will be the standout players for the Knights and expect Pearce to be up there in the Dally M points in the first opening rounds.
Pearce lead the comp in Dally M points in the first 12 rounds and was on track to win the award but the back half of the season hurt him and ultimately the Knights’ finals dreams in 2019.
Ponga will be big this season if he wants to play at fullback for the Maroons because he could be in a fight for that jersey, particularly with Cowboys fullback Valentine Holmes also gunning for the spot.
Ponga, Hoy, Brailey and Watson scored in their 58-0 win in the Knights trial match against a very poor Roosters side but it’s still good to see that the Knights key players score. Fans should be excited for the 2020 season.