NRL preview: Round 8
The Newcastle Knights are back at Hunter Stadium on Monday, and it’s being tipped as a big day on the Club’s calendar.
Warhorse and joint-captain Jeremy Smith is set to play his 200th NRL game, old rivals Manly are coming to the Hunter for the first time since 2012 and the Club will be commemorating ANZAC Day.
A big crowd is expected and the team will be desperate to put last weekend’s result against the Broncos behind them.
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v MANLY SEA EAGLES
Date: Monday April 25
Gates open: 11.30am
NRL Kick-off: 2pm
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Broadcast: Fox Sports
1. Dane Gagai, 2. Nathan Ross, 3. Sione Mata’utia, 4. Pat Mata’utia, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Jarrod Mullen, 7. Trent Hodkinson (c), 8. Sam Mataora, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Daniel Saifiti, 11. Tariq Sims (c), 12. Korbin Sims, 13. Jeremy Smith (c). Interchange: 14. Tyler Randell, 15. Josh King, 16. Jacob Saifiti, 17. David Bhana, 18. Mickey Paea.
1. Brett Stewart, 2. Brayden Wiliame, 3. Jamie Lyon (c), 4. Steve Matai, 5. Tom Trbojevic, 6. Dylan Walker, 7. Apisai Koroisau, 8. Darcy Lussick, 9. Matt Parcell, 10. Nate Myles, 11. Tom Symonds, 12. Martin Taupau, 13. Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: 14. Lewis Brown, 15. Addin Fonua-Blake, 16. Brenton Lawrence, 17. Siosia Vave.
Commemorating a special day
The Knights have the privilege of playing at home on ANZAC Day for the second year in a row, and the team will run out in commemorative jerseys.
For the players it will be an emotional day as they endeavour to show the same traits of courage and mateship that the Diggers so poignantly imprinted onto the identity of two countries.
“As a Club we feel extremely privileged to once again host an NRL match on ANZAC Day,” CEO Matt Gidley said.
“We look forward to welcoming as many current or former servicemen and women to our match on what is set to be a special occasion.”
Veteran gets his double century
Jeremy Smith has had a long and illustrious career, winning two NRL premierships and a World Cup.
He didn’t debut in the NRL until he was 24, and is still running and tackling as hard as ever now at the age of 36.
“He’s still a competitor and a warrior and well respected amongst the players and his peers,” Mickey Paea told Knights TV.
“He’s one of those players everyone wants to play alongside.
“We will want to do it for ourselves and our fans, and we want to give Jez something to remember on his 200th game.”
The rivalry resumes
There’s something special about matches between the Knights and the Sea Eagles, and any red and blue fan knows about the great clashes throughout the years.
It started in 1988 when the Knights beat the silvertails in their very first game as a Club at Hunter Stadium, and escalated when Darren Albert scored that remarkable try in the 1997 grand final.
Going into the game this weekend the Club has 12 wins from 20 games played between the two sides at Hunter Stadium.
“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,” Nathan Brown said of the rivalry.
“I think some of the younger kids who have come through the grades are aware of the history as well.”
Peter Mata’utia completes the monopoly
Following the oldest Mata’utia brother’s signing with the Club this week, the Knights again have all four brothers at the Club.
Mata’utia is excited to be back, and in a press conference on Thursday expressed how important the fans are to the fabric of the Club.
“What surprised me and the St George boys the other week was how massive the crowd was,” Mata’utia said of the Knights’ Round 6 match against the Tigers.
“It reminded me of how good the fans are up here and how they back the Club.”
THE FINAL SAY
“We have seen this year, two home games for a close win and a draw, that playing at home seems to be a good place for us," Brown said on Tuesday.
“The crowd that turned up last time was quite amazing for a team that was last on the ladder. To have 22,000 people was great, so if we can get that type of crowd on ANZAC Day it will definitely help.”