Tough lessons for young Knights
Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown and joint-captain Tariq Sims spoke to the media following Saturday night's loss to the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.
Brown believed the match taught many of the side's young and less experienced players some tough lessons after a number of injuries saw significant positional changes during the game.
Jarrod Mullen (concussion), Tyler Randell (concussion) and Nathan Ross (concussion) were the major injury concerns out of the match.
Despite the jarring scoreline, he extracted positive personal efforts from a number of the side's younger players who stepped up to a high intensity match against 2015 grand finalists, the Brisbane Broncos.
"I thought Josh King was terrific and did really well in his debut," he said.
"(As did) Dave Bhana, who after just coming back from a long term injury and he hasn't played any footy, to be forced to play the amount of time he did and compete was pleasing for us.
"Dane Gagai started well at fullback and is improving.
"I think it would be really unfair for anyone to judge the team as a whole because we had a lot of players who are young and trying to learn how to play their own position and had to play out of position due to the injuries that we received.
"We lost three with concussion.
"I think everyone would agree the two best teams in the comp, clearly at the minute by a long way, are North Queensland and Brisbane, so coming up here is tough as it it.
"I'm not making excuses, I'm just saying it as it is."
In addition to the difficult assignment, the loss of key personnel made the Knights' objective all the more harder.
"Then we lose Jarrod Mullen early on and then we lose Tyler Randall who is our hooker then we lose a winger through concussion, so we had a lot of people playing out of position," he said.
"I'm not saying we would have made a much better account of ourselves if we were allowed to keep people on the field, I just think there were a lot of young kids out there who are trying to learn to get to the pace of the game in their own position, let alone trying to play other people's positions.
"I think they deserve a little bit of slack their too."
Meanwhile he acknowledged the need for improvement before Round 8 in simple areas of the game.
"From an indivual point of view, some blokes need to look at things like dropping the ball on play one, that's not good and one-on-one missed tackles, that's not good.
"As a group collectively it would be unfair to judge them with what they went through."
Playing up against a benchmark team like the Broncos gave many of the side's inexperienced players an opportunity to tests themselves.
"Some blokes individually would get some good lessons," he said.
"They are a very good team in the halves...it's exciting when you watch a halves combination work like that and how fast the Broncos do play."
"At the end of the day we have a lot of injuries in our squad at the moment anyway.
"Our three most experienced forwards are unavailable, Jeremy Smith, Robbie Rochow and Kade Snowden.
"Danny Levi our number one hooker is unavailable, we are down four forwards straight away as it is.
"Then to ask the younger guys to play huge amount of time against such quality opposition is tough. They should get some good lessons out of it."
Tariq Sims confirmed Brown's assessment of the game as a taxing experience for the injury-marred team.
"Browny hit the nail on the head. It's never easy to come up to Brisbane, we were building but that's the nature of the game and injuries do cripple sides and at the moment we are battling," he said.
"It was a tough night and a long night and full credit to the Broncos, they were clinical in everything they did."
Turning attention to the Knights next match against the Manly Sea Eagles on Monday, the side will need to lift for the occasion.
"We have a lot to play for on our next game as it's ANZAC Day and Jeremy Smith's 200th," Sims said.
"We are going to have to go back to the drawing board and assess things and build into next week.
"That's the beauty of our game at the moment. There's always next week."
The Knights return to Hunter Stadium in Round 8, to host the Manly Sea Eagles on ANZAC Day Monday.