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Barnett primed for return

Influential nib Newcastle Knights forward Mitch Barnett said he was a little shocked to be named back in the team much earlier than expected.

The 23-year-old injured his ankle in Round 8’s encounter with the North Queensland Cowboys.

Although he was cleared from requiring surgery, Barnett was expected to spend six weeks on the sidelines but was this week named on the bench for the Knights clash with the Penrith Panthers.

“I was a little bit shocked he (Nathan Brown) named me straight back in, I haven’t spoken to him about playing yet,” Barnett said.

“It has given me a lot of confidence he has shown some faith in me.

“I want to repay him and repay the boys by putting in a good performance and taking my opportunity.”

The Knights forward admits luck was on his side.

“I prepared for the worst, they told me I’d have to get scans,” said Barnett.

“I went and saw a surgeon and he said he wouldn’t operate on it which was good and we got a couple of other opinions and they all said you’ll be right.

“We treated it aggressively and got me to where I am now.”

He also put in the hard yards with intensive physiotherapy to strengthen his ankle.

“I would come in early and try and keep my conditioning up through upper body cardio,” Barnett explained.

 

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“I was constantly getting physio on it, treatment and ice and coming in on the weekend, doing Saturdays and Sundays and being aggressive with it through a bit of pain.

“I got back out there rehab running, got it warm and it felt really good, everything lined up for me and luck went my way.”

The 23-year-old described his elation when his teammates won against the Canberra Raiders last Sunday.

“I was so nervous on the sideline watching them, it was great to see them perform so well, stick to a game plan and get the result in the end,” revealed Barnett.

“I enjoy playing with all of the boys and want to get back out there, perform week in, week out and keep trying to get that win.”

Barnett is confident the Knights can produce a polished performance against the Penrith Panthers this Sunday after a disappointing result in Round 4.

“They played through us, started through the middle and they scored at will in the first half so we owe them one,” said Barnett.

“Since then the boys have worked really hard to try and not let that happen again and have a bit of extra motivation this week.”

We’re not back at McDonald Jones Stadium until July, so make sure you’re at the game this Sunday afternoon! NRL kicks off at 2pm.