Josh Mercer previews the opening round clash between the Sydney Roosters and the Newcastle Knights.
Sydney Roosters Vs Newcastle Knights
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground
Date: Saturday March 12, 3pm
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Billy Smith 4. Joseph Manu 5. Paul Momirovski 6. Sam Walker 7. Luke Keary 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Connor Watson 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Angus Crichton 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Victor Radley 14. Drew Hutchison 15. Fletcher Baker 16. Nat Butcher 17. Siosiua Taukeiaho 18. Kevin Naiqama 19. Daniel Sulka-fifita 20. Lachlan Lam 21. Naufahu Whyte 22. Adam Keighran
Surprise first up with Billy Smith playing in the centres over Paul Momirovski, who played in the centres for the Panthers last year. Momirovski will start on the wing, and Connor Watson will start at hooker with Sam Verrills out.Embed from Getty Images
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Dominic Young 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Enari Tuala 6. Jake Clifford 7. Adam Clune 8. David Klemmer 9. Chris Randall 10. Jacob Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13.Kurt Mann 14. Phoenix Crossland 15. Mitchell Barnett 16. Leo Thompson 17. Jirah Momoisea 18. Tex Hoy 19. Pasami Saulo 20. Simi Sasagi 21. Brayden Musgrove 22. Mathew Croker 23. Dylan Lucas 24. Jaron Purcell
Dane Gagai makes his return to the Knights in the centres. Adam Clune will debut at halfback for the Knights, filling the spot of Mitchell Pearce. Daniel Saifiti is out for the first few rounds after fracturing his tibia.
Referee: Gerard Sutton
The Roosters will have something that they didn’t have for most of last season, a full-strength side (with the exception of Sam Verrills). The return of Luke Keary is set to be a big boost for the Bondi side, it will be interesting to see how his combination with young gub Sam Walkers goes. Connor Watson takes on his old side straight off the bat, and Roosters’ fan will be happy to see him in the red, white and blue again.
Last year, the Knights made it to the finals but were bundled out in the first week by the Eels. They will be hoping to make the finals again. All eyes will be on Adam Clune, Jake Clifford, and Kalyn Ponga to see how they combine. If they are to be a genuine title contender, then these three must fire from the get-go. The Knights Mr Fixit Kurt Mann will play at lock, which he suits well and should have a big season. His clash with Victor Radley should be a good one.
Losing one of their reliable players in Isaac Liu is a blow for the Roosters. Still, players like Sitili Tupouniua and Nat Butcher will be better for all the minutes they played last year and should take their games to the next level this season.Embed from Getty Images
The Knights have only won one game against the Roosters in six years. Their last win was in 2019.
Kurt Mann is playing in his 150th game. He started his career in 2014 with the Melbourne Storm.
Roosters by 12.
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