Knights travel unchanged
The Newcastle Knights travel north with an unchanged 19-man squad for Sunday's season opener at Cbus Super Stadium against the Gold Coast Titans.
While much of the talk this week has centred around the Club naming five players to make their NRL debut, according to forward Robbie Rochow it was no great surprise.
"We knew this early on in the pre-season when there were 13 or 14 players that hadn’t played NRL. We knew that meant in round one we’d have a few debutants," Rochow said after Saturday's captain's run at Wests Mayfield.
"We want them to do the best they can, I am really excited for them to taste NRL and hopefully us older guys can perform really well for them."
Coach Nathan Brown selected David Bhana, Jaelen Feeney, Pat Mata'utia as well as 19-year-old twins Daniel and Jacob Saifiti to make their debut.
"From what they showed in the trials and in training, that gives you confidence," Rochow added.
"Of course they will be nervous, I am nervous, that comes with the game."
For Rochow, the new season is a good chance to get back to his best football after an injury-interrupted 2015.
"I am in the best shape I have been in for a while so I am looking forward to Sunday," Rochow admitted.
He also expects to be challenged by the reduced interchange, after seeing earlier matches in the opening round.
“It looks like less breaks, and it is going to be tough for the 80 minutes players but I am looking forward to it,” Rochow said.
“It is round one, if we control the ball well and tackle well it will make our job a lot easier.”
As for coming up against the Titans pack, Rochow knows that is always the test no matter the opposition.
“You always have to stop their momentum through the middle, you have to win the ruck,” he said.
“So for us it is a matter of being simple, aggressive and targeting their middle.”
The Knights take on the Titans at Cbus Super Stadium in the Under 20s at 3.15pm before the NRL match at 5.30pm on Sunday (local times).