Date: Sunday, 17th August
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Kick-off: 2:00pm (local time)
Newcastle Knights: Kurt Gidley, Chanel Mata’utia, Dane Gagai, Joseph Leilua, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen, Tyrone Roberts, Kade Snowden, Adam Clydsdale, Willie Mason, Beau Scott, Robbie Rochow, Jeremy Smith. Interchange: Travis Waddell, Korbin Sims, Adam Cuthbertson, David Fa’alogo, Chris Houston
New Zealand Warriors: Sam Tomkins, David Fusitua, Ngani Laumape, Ben Henry, Manu Vatuvei, Chad Townsend, Shaun Johnson, Jacob Lillyman, Thomas Leuluai, Suaia Matagi, Ben Matulino, Jayson Bukuya, Simon Mannering. Interchange: Feleti Mateo, Sam Rapira, Sione Lousi, Nathan Friend, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Dominique Peyroux
The question hangs over the heads of the Newcastle Knights more than ever at this time of season, following Rick Stone’s appointment as coach for next season and beyond. Who will keep the Knights clear of the wooden spoon? Is it best to bring in Rick Stone so he can begin working with the team now, or do they stick with super coach Wayne Bennett who is only keeping them clear of the unwanted trophy by 4 points?
Either way, after their win of the season last week against the Melbourne Storm and an earlier triumph over the Sydney Roosters, hopes are high in the Knights’ camp and we know they can do the unthinkable in front of a strong Hunter crowd. A shaky New Zealand Warriors side should look like a step-down but jumping the gun at this point in time would be silly.
After struggling to find consistency, the Warriors are finally in the top eight. But when you’re only there because of point differential and coming off the back of a gritty edging over the Cronulla Sharks at home, this week they have to step up their game.
They may have that extra edge over the Knights on the weekend with the return of superstar halfback and fan favourite Shaun Johnson, but to weigh things out Konrad Hurell and Tuimoala Lolohea stay sidelined with their own respective injuries.
The Knights will have Chris Houston join the squad as 18th man to replace newly signed Sione Mata’utia while homegrown hero Kurt Gidley shifts to fullback to make way for Country RL halfback Jarrod Mullen.
It’s going to be close. Warriors by 2.