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Opinion

Are the Newcastle Knights a top-four side? Damn right!

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Roar Guru
2nd March, 2021
22

After a turbulent 2020 season – featuring injuries to key players that led the team to struggle with consistency – a lot of people are asking where the Knights will finish this NRL season.

An area we struggled with was consistency and cockiness. A high amount of injuries didn’t help, but we fought and made the finals.

In the final five rounds of the regular season, Newcastle had two wins and three 30-point losses – two coming against teams with no possibility of making the eight. One more win would have locked in a home final.

After seven years of waiting, Fans finally got to see their team in the finals and despite the way it ended, we at least got there.

This season Kalyn Ponga is at fullback, Blake Green at five-eighth, Mitchell Pearce is halfback and Jayden Brailey playing hooker, which is a quartet we haven’t seen as the spine. Still, Pearce and Ponga teamed up with Brailey and Green in two full games each, resulting in four victories.

Brailey’s club debut saw Newcastle chalk up their first shut-out win in almost six years – which, incidentally, was also coach Adam O’Brien’s debut, and was an opposition scoreline Nathan Brown never accomplished and took Wayne Bennett 55 games to achieve with the Knights.

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Green’s first game for the red and blue saw the team demolish the Tigers 44-4 in front of their home faithful.

With Brailey and Green on the field, Pearce and Ponga played their natural style.

Another player I should mention is Connor Watson, whose transition to being an 80-minute playmaking look could be lethal and beneficial.

Now with Pearce set to stay with Newcastle for another year, O’Brien shutting down all rumours about returning to Melbourne with a two-year extension and young gun Bradman Best signing an extension, this is a new era for the Knights.

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I’ve said it before and will do so again – no more rebuilding, no more excuses and no more bullshit.

Things are looking bright. The players we’ve retained from last year have got an extra year of experience and the addition of Tyson Frizell, who’s one of the best and most intense second rowers of the modern era, will benefit our team.

This is absolutely a top-four team.