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As the first game of the season looms on Saturday, assistant coaches Danny Buderus and Craig Sandercock dissect the team named to face the New Zealand Warriors at Hunter Stadium.

“It’s looking really good and the boys are training well. It’s been well documented that it’s a long pre-season, so the boys can’t wait,” Sandercock said.

“Fullback is Kurt Gidley, he is our captain and inspiration."

Akuila Uate and James McManus have been named on the wing with the season opener marking 30-year-old McManus’ 150th Club and NRL game.

“Speaking about Aku, it looks like he has the fire in his belly,” Sandercock said.

“He’s training really well and can hardly wait.”

Sandercock originally built a relationship with Uate during his time with the Knights before his stint with to English Super league team Hull Kingston Rovers.

“Him and I hit it off from the moment I got here,” Sandercock said.

“He’s a really astute player. He might act like he’s happy-go-lucky, but when you get to know him, he really knows his game and he’s really keen for a big year.”

Both coaches agree in the forward department, the Knights are looking strong.

“I think Korbin Sims has really put his hand up to start, and he deserves it,” Sandercock said.

Meanwhile, exciting things are expected from the halves pairing of Tyrone Roberts and Jarrod Mullen.

“It’s a big year for our halves with (Jarrod) Mullo and Tyrone (Roberts), they’ve been working really hard building pressure,” Buderus said.

“I’ve never seen Jarrod more focused for a season.

“He’s really matured and his leadership skills each training session have been really great. He just needs to transfer that onto the field.”

Sandercock continued saying, “He’s been exceptional physically and mentally and he’s at the top of his game.

“He’s someone we’re really looking forward to kick on and he has upped everything in his game, both on and off the field.

“The same goes for young Tyrone, so I’m pretty excited to see the combination they will produce together.”

Buderus explained the Knights' bench is particularly important against the Warriors to add extra punch when fatigue sets in.

“Jack Stockwell is on our debut for us and he’s another one that is there based on his training,” Sandercock said.

“If he plays like he trains, he’s in for a big game and a big year.

“There’s some experience there in Dave Fa’alogo and Chris Houston, so I think we have it covered.”

“Tyler Randell has been one of our best performers in pre-season, so we have some depth.

“To have this luxury with the quality that we’ve got is pleasing.

“I’d rather be in this position than not and think that it will work itself out.”

ROUND 1 - Saturday March 7

Newcastle Knights v New Zealand Warriors
Gates open: 11.45am
NYC: 12 noon
NSW Cup: 2.10pm
NRL: 4.30pm
Venue: Hunter Stadium
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