Last season placing: 12th
Newcastle Knights start 2015 with head coach Wayne Bennett and fullback Darius Boyd moving on to Brisbane. Rick Stone takes up the position which he vacated at the end of 2011. While they haven’t heavily dabbled in the marketplace over the summer months, Newcastle will look towards their strong nursery to rebuild after a nightmare season which resulted in the end to a promising career with Alex McKinnon.
Key Players: At thirty-two and in his fifteenth season this might be Kurt Gidley’s last hurrah in the NRL. With 230 games under his belt, Gidley will be the mentor for the Mata’utia brothers who are fast developing into super stars of the game. Sione a bolter for Four Nations selection after seven matches. He and brother Chanel are set be explosive out wide this season. Beau Scott will be the leader in the pack and he’ll be hoping that Tariq Sims can have an immediate impact at the club to strengthen their size up front.
Drawbacks: Super coach Bennett has left the club and the experience of Boyd and Mason will be missing. Mason in particular kept the side together during the dark times at the club with Alex McKinnon’s injury. Their away record will continue to be a concern, only winning three on the road last season and with almost 100 points leaked in their final two away games (Rabbitohs and Broncos).
Story of 2015: Jarrod Mullen. There’s been so much expectation on Mullen after representing New South Wales in 2007 in his third season of NRL. With almost 200 games under his belt and a growing combination with Tyrone Roberts, the Singleton product will steer the Knights up the ladder this season and could be in some calculation for the competition’s Player of the Year.
Ladder: To miss the 8, but could sneak into the eight with good home results.
Top Tryscorer: James McManus
Top Pointscorer: Tyrone Roberts
Player of the Year: Jarrod Mullen