Assistant Coaches Danny Buderus and Craig Sandercock sat down to discuss the Newcastle Knights’ round two win against the North Queensland Cowboys and assess where the team sits coming into Sunday’s match against the Gold Coast Titans.
For the second week running, head coach Rick Stone has named the same 18-man line-up, which both assistants see as an advantage leading into round three.
“It’s good to get some continuity with the players, putting in a team back to back this week," Buderus said.
“It’s also good to have a forward pack that’s still the same as last week.
“Kurt (Gidley) retains his spot there at fullback after playing a hybrid role last week with a bit at hooker and a bit of everywhere, and then Sione came in. That was a good advantage for the team."
Sandercock asked the celebrated Knights' ex-number nine for his thoughts on skipper Gidley’s appearance as hooker for parts of Saturday’s game.
“It was sort of sprung on him a bit late in the preparation for the season really, I thought he did pretty well and was really calm in there,” Buderus said.
“I think the energy he brought in line speed and defence was really good for us and kicked the boys home."
The men in red and blue have come from behind to steal the win in the last two rounds offering up the same type of steely determination against the New Zealand Warriors and Cowboys.
“I’m really happy with the way the boys are finishing that back end of the game. I think they are doing a good job there,” Buderus said.
The last round saw Knights' veteran Jeremy Smith recognised with Players' Player after a standout defensive game.
“Jeremy is like a warrior, he keeps turning up and there was actually on set against the Cowboys where he did the whole set himself and was involved on five tackles,” Buderus said.
“Jez is one of those teammates you love playing with and he’ll be in the thick of it again."
But Smith wasn’t the only player in the Knights’ pack to catch Buderus’ eye.
“Kade Snowden, I pretty much gave him my three points, he just keeps getting better and better in understanding his role,” he said.
“I think it’s the first time I’ve seen him fit for a while. His knee is going well and his motor is going well as well."
Sandercock believes improvements displayed in the Knights’ kicking game will be sought after when the side comes up against a full strength Titans.
“It was good and wasn’t too humid in Townsville, and you’re right, the kicking game was much improved,” Sandercock said.
“Speaking of kicking game, we need to be at our best against the Titans as all their players are back."
Buderus went on to explain the Titans are fielding their best side with the return of a number of sidelined players.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” he added.
“They are coming off a loss at Bathurst which would have hurt them, but to have their stars back, I’d guess you’d say, they will be keen to right a few wrongs from last week and we’re in the firing line I’d say.
“It will be a bit of an ambush at the start playing with a bit of emotion, if we stay calm and kick and tackle well, I think we’ll be okay.”
Buderus picks the Titan’s powerful centre, James Roberts as well as William Zillman and five-eighth Aiden Sezer to be players to watch in the opposition.
“I think it will be a massive test for us I think the boys will relish and hopefully we’ll go up there and make the Club proud and come away with the two points,” Sandercock concluded.