While the Knights bowed out of the 2016 Auckland Nines in the quarter finals for the third year running, head coach Nathan Brown was impressed with the way his players acquitted themselves.
Considering the average age of the Nines squad sat at less than 21 years of age, the young charges more than held their own against the likes of Michael Morgan, Semi Radradra and James Segeyaro.
“Overall I was pretty pleased, the guys improved from game to game and I thought our last performance was probably our best,” Brown said in a press conference following the team’s return to Newcastle on Monday morning.
“All the guys that haven’t played first-grade before in essence made a debut against NRL opposition.”
Brock Lamb, Jaelen Feeney, Will Pearsall and the Saifiti twins all showed that they could swim when thrown into the deep end.
Lamb was particularly impressive, scoring two tries and setting several up with clever kicks.
“They all showed some signs for the future,” Brown said.
“A lot of them showed that they should be able to handle some amount of NRL this year.”
While the composure and physical competence of the rookies was the highlight, Brown believes there is still plenty to work on in other areas.
“There’s certainly an area of defence where a number of our players can get better, especially some of the younger ones,” he explained.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do at the moment, but we’re happy that the kids are progressing.”
Saturday February 13 – Trial match
Newcastle Knights v Parramatta / Wentworthville
Venue: Newcastle Sportsground No.2