It’s only two weeks until the 2016 season kicks off and the Knights are all set for their only trial match of the pre-season against the Canberra Raiders in Orange.
It’s building as an exciting contest for red and blue fans with new recruits Trent Hodkinson, Mickey Paea, Pauli Pauli, Will Pearsall and David Bhana all named.
For the very first time, the match will also be available for Knights fans to watch on the Club website via live stream.
WHEN AND WHERE
Saturday February 20, 6.30pm (AEDT)
Wade Park, Orange
1. Jaelen Feeney, 2. Jake Mamo, 3. Pat Mata’Utia, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Brock Lamb, 7. Trent Hodkinson, 8. Kade Snowden, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Jack Stockwell, 11. Korbin Sims, 12. Robbie Rochow, 13. Jeremy Smith, 14. Tyler Randell, 15. Mickey Paea, 16. Pauli Pauli, 17. Sam Mataora, 18. Jacob Saifiti, 19. Daniel Saifiti, 20. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 21. Will Pearsell, 22. Nathan Ross, 23. Sione Mata’utia, 24. David Bhana, 25. Chanel Mata'utia.
Kurt Baptiste, Mitchell Barnett, Luke Bateman, Shannon Boyd, Adam Clydsdale, Jarrod Croker, Lachlan Croker, Josh Hodgson, Jarrad Kennedy, Rhys Kennedy, Brenko Lee, Edrick Lee, Joey Leilua, Jeff Lima, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Kato Ottio, Josh Papalii, Jordan Rapana, Zac Santo, Aidan Sezer, Sia Soliola, Paul Vaughan, Sisa Waqa, Elliott Whitehead, Jack Wighton, Jack Williams, Sam Williams.
(Numbers not available)
Talismanic halves Jarrod Mullen and Blake Austin are unavailable for the Knights and Raiders respectively, which means new recruits Trent Hodkinson and Aidan Sezer will be steering the two teams around Wade Park.
19-year-old five-eighth Brock Lamb will be linking up with Hodkinson, and his strong running game will compliment the veteran halfback well.
This will be Lamb’s first real taste of first-grade football but he has spent a full pre-season with the NRL squad and has added plenty of size to his frame.
Hodkinson meanwhile will be looking to build some solid combinations with his backs ahead of Round 1.
Jaelen Feeney starts at fullback
A half by trade, Feeney is looking to secure a spot in first-grade at fullback. He has the pace, ball-playing skills and confidence to put in a strong showing at Wade Park, and will be mindful that this is his only real audition for Round 1.
Expect him to fly out of the blocks on Saturday evening.
Korbin Sims in the second row
Sims has played all of his NRL football as a prop or lock, but spent much of the off-season training as a second-rower to bring more versatility to his game.
With brother Tariq sidelined for the beginning of the season, Korbin may find a permanent place for himself out wide if he plays well against the Raiders.
This could also see Jack Stockwell playing more minutes as a prop, which he showed he is more than capable of doing last season before injury struck.
Pat Mata’utia starts in the back line
Pat is yet to play NRL football, and with brother Sione set to miss Round 1 due to suspension, a spot in the centres is up for grabs.
He has secured a starting spot in this trial, and if he puts in a strong shift he will be in the box seat for a debut against the Gold Coast Titans.
Similar to the other Mata’utia brothers, Pat has plenty of pace, agility and the muscle to stop runners in their tracks.
WHERE IT WILL BE WON
While this is only a pre-season trial, there is plenty at stake. Both teams will want to put in a strong showing ahead of Round 1, and plenty of players will want to prove that they have what it takes to make the step up to regular first-grade football.
While the Raiders are known for having plenty of size in the forwards, the Knights have also bulked up in that department with the likes of Pauli Pauli, Mickey Paea and the Saifiti twins.
Whichever forward pack provides their halves with the time and space to do their magic will more than likely come away with the win.