The classic rivalry between the Newcastle Knights and Manly Sea Eagles is one ingrained in the Club’s psyche.
One of the earliest moments in the Knights’ history was the newly-formed team’s first trial match against Manly in 1988 which marked the first occasion the Knights took the field in the Sydney-based competition as a collective unit.
Flash forward to 1997 when the Knights secured the Australian Rugby League premiership with a 22-16 win over Manly.
Since then, the lively competition between the two rivals has played out in determined efforts to prevent defeat at each Club’s respective hallowed home ground.
Coach Nathan Brown is well aware of the significance of the match-up and expects the passion and healthy animosity will show in a spirited clash this ANZAC Day when the two side’s meet at Hunter Stadium.
“Obviously for Newcastle it’s the closest to a derby I suppose and a close grand final victory can bring that rivalry,” he told the media on Tuesday.
“The Knights (grand final) with the Darren Albert last minute try against the Manly side, which was probably the best side of that era.
“To win that grand final, I think those things leave long-lasting memories for a lot of people and the competitiveness builds on the back of that.”
Although that fateful day was almost 19-years ago now, when many of the Knights’ current crop were mere toddlers, the meaning and importance is far from lost on today’s team.
“Tthose type of things get drummed into the players and they are quite aware of it through the media, social media and players of the past,” he said.
“Whilst we have a very young squad, we do have some senior statesman in Jarrod Mullen and Jeremy Smith and blokes like that who have been around for a while and are quite aware of the history.
“I think some of the younger kids who have come through the grades are aware of the history.”
In addition to the already emotion-charged match, the fact it falls on one of the nation’s most significant days, ANZAC Day, offers the players further inspiration.
“I think more significantly, it’s ANZAC Day and that carries more weight than anything,” Brown added.
“It will be a tough game, but as we are all aware, a home game definitely seems to be a place where we seem to play well, at our home ground which is good.
“The history of ANZAC Day is a big day for all of Australia and I think all the games that take part on ANZAC Day will carry that extra weight.”
Following a number of lengthy trips on the road, a nine day turnaround brings with it welcome respite for the Knights before the big clash.
“It’s really important for us with the three concussions, with the longer turnaround it gives them a far better chance,” he said.
“Danny Levi gets to do a full week’s training as does Jez (Jeremy) Smith.
“We have a number of other who are out injured and might not quite make this week, but are getting closer.
“The longer week definitely benefits the younger players because they get a chance to work hard on their game and to recover.
“Then you get a really good week’s training to prepare."
The additional preparation time will allow the Knights to best prepare for Manly who Brown believes has opened the season with a tough brand of football.
“They have a lot of grand final winners and international players in their team,” he said.
“They are playing some really good footy and competing very hard.
“The first few weeks they were probably a bit slow out of the block, but since then, they have played some really good footy.”
Monday April 25 – Round 8
Newcastle Knights v Manly Sea Eagles
Gates open: 11.30am
ANZAC Ceremony: 1.50pm
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Tickets: CLICK HERE
Game day information: CLICK HERE
ANZAC jersey: CLICK HERE