Newcastle Knights coach Rick Stone discussed his 18-man Auckland Nines squad that was announced on Tuesday morning, with ten days to go before the tournament kicks off.
“We have some flexibility there, some experience and some rewards for some young blokes,” Stone told the media after training.
“There is plenty of mobility, plenty of skill and some try scoring ability which you need in the Nines.
“(Nathan) Rossy deserves his chance, Jack Stockwell I think will be a good addition and will show us plenty, so there will be a few boys there in Knights colours for the first time that the fans can have a look at.”
Following Jarrod Mullen's injury in last year's tournament, the players’ workload will be monitored to minimise the risk of injury.
“Injury is always a worry regardless of what game you play,” the coach said.
“With bigger squads hopefully we can manage things a little better this year, because everyone doesn’t necessarily have to play every game.
“After we play the first game we will assess where the boys are at and make decisions from there.”
Stone hopes the Knights can perform strongly at the Nines to build a platform for the season proper, which kicks off at Hunter Stadium against the New Zealand Warriors on Saturday March 7.
“I think a good positive performance at the Nines is important,” Stone added.
“If we can do well there and have some decent trial form, we can take confidence into round one against the Warriors.”
The Knights are grouped in the Rangitoto pool, and will play the Parramatta Eels, Manly Sea Eagles and St George Illawarra Dragons at the January 31 and February 1 tournament.