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It’s only a trial game, but Newcastle Knights coach Wayne Bennett has promised his charges will play to their potential when they take on the First Nations Goannas in an exhibition match at Hunter Stadium this Saturday.


The Knights named a strong 20-man squad for their clash against Laurie Daley's Goannas on Tuesday and Bennett is excited by the challenge of his team taking on some of the best young Indigenous players in the country.




Halfback Tyrone Roberts will captain the Knights team, which has a potent blend of youth and much needed experience.


And while the match-up against the Goannas is far from an NRL fixture, Bennett admits all his top players will get every opportunity to play long minutes and thrill the crowd.


"The senior players will provide the leadership out there and make sure we stay on track and play the football we know we are capable of playing," Bennett says.


"Because it is about entertaining the crowd here on Saturday night as well.


"We are not playing for two competition points or anything like that and it’s just an exhibition match.


"But it’s important to the indigenous people and it’s important for us as well.


"So if we get a good mix and they play at their skill and we play at ours, then it will be a great game of football."


The clash against the Goannas will also be the first look at the Club's new recruits.


Michael Dobson has been named at five-eighth, while Matt Minto has been named on an extended bench.


Former Knight Clint Newton will line-up at lock forward in his first game back at the Club after stints with Melbourne, Hull and Penrith.


Three Under 20s players will also feature in the match, Sione Mata'utia at fullback, Jake Mamo on the wing and Joseph Tapine in the second-row.


The trio have trained with the NRL squad over the summer and Bennett is looking forward to setting them free in their first official match as senior footballers.


"They are impressing at training a fair bit, but they need to be tested now in competition so this is a good opportunity for them," he stresses.


"Obviously we aren’t playing against NRL players, so I wanted to balance it a little bit from our point of view.


"There are a number of players who haven’t played NRL in our team and there are a few NRL players, so I’m just trying to make it a balance and a real good game of football."


While Bennett is fully focused on his own team leading into Saturday night's match, the veteran mentor concedes he has also taken a keen interest in the Goannas side.


He is particularly looking forward to watching the return of retired stars like Nathan Blacklock and David Peachey.


"They just announced Blacklock, so I would have to assume he is well into his 40s now," he grins.


"But I saw him play about three years ago when the floods were on in Queensland.


"I was up there with the Dragons for an exhibition game up in Warwick.


"Nathan turned up and he still had the gift. He still had the magic.


"And Peachey of course was a wonderful player in the NRL as well.


"I suppose if Freddie (Brad Fittler) can play in the Nines, they are probably thinking they can comeback as well.


"It's going to be an exciting game."


As Bennett knows, combine a few retied legends with some of the best young Indigenous players and the Knights will certainly have their hands full come Saturday night.


Tickets are on sale now for the Festival of Indigenous Rugby League. CLICK HERE to purchase tickets now.


• General admission: Adults $18, Children $8, Family $45

• Reserved: Adults $25, Children $15, Family $65