The Harold Matthews Newcastle Knights have been a revelation this year, winning nine of the ten matches they’ve played in and racking up an average of 34 points per game.
This weekend they will be rewarded with a Grand Final appearance against the Parramatta Eels in Penrith, continuing the long tradition of success in the Knights’ junior ranks.
While past Harold Matthews sides have had the benefit of outstanding individuals like Brock Lamb and Sione Mata’utia, head coach Mark Morrisey says this side is special because of the way they work as a collective.
“They work together well as a team, there’s been a couple of individual performances, but week in, week out they chime in and work together as a team,” he told Knights TV at a training session on Wednesday evening.
“I’m very proud of the boys, they’ve worked hard right through from the 2nd of December training three times a week.”
Towering lock Brock Gardner is the captain of the side, and echoes his coach’s sentiment.
“We’ve formed a great bond with each other, we’re all really good mates and just keen to get out there,” he said.
“All the boys are pumped, it should be a great game this weekend and we’ll really enjoy it.”
Morrisey is equally enthusiastic about the upcoming final.
“Our captain Brock has been going really well, and our five-eighth Jock Madden and halfback Phoenix Crossland have really been the backbone of this success,” he explained.
“There’s seven of these kids in the Emerging Blues side, and if we win this weekend that will help the numbers we get in to play State of Origin.
“There’s some great talent coming through, we’ve just got to keep them.”
1. Matthew Smith, 2. Teva Mataora, 3. Shaun Casey, 4. Toby Marks, 5. Bradman Best, 6. Jock Madden, 7. Phoenix Crossland, 8. Lachlan Pope, 9. Cameron Davies, 10. Kingsley Jennings, 11. Ross Haidle, 12. Joel Dark, 13. Brock Gardner. Interchange: 14. Tyran Ott, 17. Tom Baker, 19. Timanu Alexander, 20. Sam Jones, 23. Jye Bieman-King, 24. Ethan Grine.