The Knights have taken six players to Auckland that are yet to make their NRL debut, and assistant coach Danny Buderus says that this weekend is the perfect opportunity for them to show what they’ve got.
The Saifiti twins, Jaelen Feeney, Brock Lamb, Will Pearsell and Pat Mata’utia are all unproven at the highest level, and will no doubt be eyeing the Auckland Nines as an audition for the 2016 season.
“They get to showcase their skills on a big stage and in front of a lot of fans,” Buderus told Knights TV on Wednesday morning.
“Nathan (Brown) is going over to look at the boys doing their thing, and hopefully he’ll be drawing on those guys in the 2016 season.”
When asked what sort of attributes the coaching staff will be looking for from the rookies, Buderus placed emphasis on mentality and defence.
“The characteristics the boys have been displaying at training with their attitude and will to win will be on display,” he said.
“We’ve got a little bit of a game plan, just to keep the boys confident with the right attitude over the weekend.
“We’re looking for a really efficient kick-chase and the defensive side will win games.”
Buderus was always known for his defensive qualities during his playing days, and believes that whichever team displays those traits best at the Nines will win the competition.
“The two best defensive teams last year were the Sharks and the Rabbitohs, and they made it to the final,” Buderus explained.
“The challenge for our new guys will be their spatial awareness. They’ll have to understand where they need to be to make an efficient tackle or a good hit-up.”
Saturday February 6 at Eden Park:
Knights v North Queensland Cowboys
Kick off: 1.20pm
Knights v Penrith Panthers
Kick off: 5.15pm
Sunday February 7 at Eden Park:
Knights v Wests Tigers
Kick off: 11.25am