As the Newcastle Knights build for a long awaited return to Hunter Stadium on Sunday, coach Nathan Brown has provided an update on his squad following injuries to key personnel.
In last week’s match against the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park, injuries to Sione Mata’utia (concussion) and Danny Levi (back) saw the Knights play most of the game with just two on the bench.
“Sione is going well at the minute, but there’s a fair few protocols he has to get through. When or if he gets through them, then he and the doctor will have to be comfortable and if that’s the case, he’ll play,” Brown said on Wednesday.
“If he doesn’t tick all the boxes then he won’t play. It will be a decision that will be made later in the week.”
In the event of Mata’utia not taking the field, Brown says there are a number of options to fill the void at centre.
"Today we looked at Jaelen (Feeney) and Robbie Rochow did a really good job there. We will go based on training, but it will probably be a last minute decision with Sione,” he added.
While Danny Levi sat out of training on Wednesday, Brown says he is improving.
“He had an epidural a few days ago and they are expecting him to settle and play, but again we won’t really know until he starts training,” he said.
“We are hopeful he will do a bit of training tomorrow.”
Likewise, if Levi does not prove fitness, Brown will look to a utility player to take his place on the Knights’ bench.
“Will Pearsall has been playing well in reserve grade and Jaelen (Feeney) can play a utility role as well so it will definitely be someone who can play a utility role,” he said.
Jake Mamo began running again on Wednesday, but will be closer to making a return to the playing field next week.
“We are hopeful him and Chanel Mata’utia (knee) will be back next week,” he said.
Meanwhile, prop Kade Snowden remains in rehabilitation group.
“Kade has a number of niggling issues with his body which is limiting his training ability at the moment,” he said.
Brown was particularly pleased to see the Knights bounce back well after an extended period on the road after travelling to New Zealand for Round 4 and direct to Melbourne for Round 5.
“The boys have had a few days off which they deserve after being on the road for eight or nine days,” he said.
“They put in a fair effort against Melbourne.”
After a recovery day and video review on Tuesday, the team was back on the training track at Knights HQ in unseasonably hot weather.
“The session was pretty good and there were plenty out there doing their extras,” Brown said.
“They were in good spirits.”
Sunday April 10 – Round 6
Newcastle Knights v Wests Tigers
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Gates Open: 11.15am
Reserve grade: 11.30am
NRL Kick off: 4pm
Match Day information is HERE.