As the Newcastle Knights launch into preparation for Round 6, assistant coach Craig Sandercock and Rick Stone discuss what they anticipate from the Cronulla Sharks.
This week Stone and his coaching staff have managed forced personnel changes due to injuries in the Knights’ forward pack.
“Beau (Scott) has some ankle ligament damage, so will possibly be out for a couple of weeks,” Stone said.
“Chris Houston will move into his spot. Tariq Sims played in the second row and played for Robbie Rochow last week.
“Robbie is still going to be at least another week and will possibly be available the following week.”
Sandercock explained vacancies in the run on squad have allowed opportunities for the Club’s emerging talent to get their chance on the NRL stage.
“We have swapped Pat Vaivai and Joseph Tapine around. Joe has played pretty well in the last couple of weeks in NSW Cup,” Stone said.
“He was the Players’ Player in the last few weeks and probably gives a little bit of flexibility around the back row as well.
“He’s another player who came off the bench after playing a bit of NSW Cup two weeks ago against Penrith and did a pretty good job.”
After the Sharks’ recent upset against the Sydney Roosters and as the team returns to home soil, both coaches agree the side should not be underestimated.
“Shark Park at 7.30, it’s pretty tough out there. What do you see the dangers from Cronulla?” Sandercock asked.
Stone said, “It’s always a tough game at Cronulla. In the evening it’s usually pretty windy and conditions can be testing.
“They have a good forward pack and obviously their back row in (Paul) Gallen, (Wade) Graham and (Luke) Lewis is pretty special.
“They had a couple of really good young players who performed well.
“(Jack) Bird was really good for them and Valentine Holmes is a player with heaps of potential.
“They have a good combination of senior and younger players and have some experience with Mick Ennis at hooker, so have some good control and a nice competitive through the middle.
“It will be a tough game and I thought their game against the Roosters last week was terrific.
“They challenged the Roosters and controlled the ball well.
“They have some young players who really stood up and they will get some confidence out of that going back to their home ground."
After a number of early rounds on the road, the Knights will head to their first Sydney based match on Thursday to begin their usual game routine.
With the short turn around between games, the Knights kicked off training, video review and a gym session on Tuesday before a rest day on Wednesday.
“We train on Thursday morning after doing more video, will have some lunch and will travel,” Stone said.
“That’s pretty much our routine when we go to Sydney.”