Newcastle Knights coach Rick Stone is pleased to see the likely return of a number of the side’s injured players as the team approaches a challenging trip to take on the Canberra Raiders on Friday night at GIO Stadium.
The Knights are set to welcome back Jeremy Smith on Friday after the veteran forward proved his fitness on Sunday afternoon playing with the NSW Cup Knights against the Manly Sea Eagles.
“He thought he needed a bit of a blow out before this Friday night’s game and he put his hand up to play NSW Cup yesterday and got through around 45 minutes,” Stone said.
“He pulled up pretty good and I think he’s happy for it and a bit more confident for it and should take his place with a bit more confidence on Friday."
As the Knights edge closer to the Round 18 game, David Fa'alogo will return while the team’s two injured halves Jarrod Mullen and Tyrone Roberts push to prove they are too fit to take the field.
“We just have to manage Jarrod a little bit. He’s been training pretty well in the last week, but not two days in a row for him,” he said.
“He’s expected to be on deck tomorrow as it was a scheduled day off his feet for Jarrod.
“We’ll name him and we think he’s going to play this weekend and that’s the plan at this stage.”
Roberts, who suffered an ankle injury in Round 12 against the Warriors, is poised to rejoin the squad on the weekend.
“We probably held back Tyrone from the game (NSW Cup), so he could give us a good Monday and Tuesday considering it was going to be a shorter week this week,” he explained.
With representative Knights Beau Scott and Dane Gagai in Origin camp this week ahead of Wednesday night’s series decider in Brisbane, Stone says depth in their positions will be relied upon.
“We have to put some contingency in place in the position those players are in... to make sure you have some coverage,” he said.
Stone indicated brothers Chanel and Pat Mata’utia will deputise for Gagai in case he’s unable to back up to the Friday night game after his Origin performance for Queensland.
“It will probably be young Joey Tapine in for Beau who did a pretty good job when he went off against Brisbane a couple of weeks ago,” he concluded.