Knights embrace forced change
The Newcastle Knights are set to benefit from the extra preperation time a Monday night game provides, given a number of injuries approaching Round 12.
“It gives a bit of extra time for the guys to recover and work on a few little combinations,” Brown told the media on Tuesday.
The quest for a consistent performance continues despite considerable changes in the Knights’ line-up.
“We can keep working away at the processes and trying to get that right,” Brown said.
“Being consistent is tough for all NRL players and that’s the difference between the good teams and the bad teams.”
With the team forced to cope with players missing due to injury, he expects the side will rely on the type of energy and commitment shown by developing players in the front row like Daniel Saifiti and Josh King.
“We had one 19 and 20-year-old front rowers come on and turn the game,” he said about Saturday’s Wests Tigers clash.
“Daniel Saifiti’s performance is as good as what any front rower has done this year as far as carrying the ball goes."
Yet it will be a big test for the side against opposition the Parramatta Eels, who have been issued with a salary cap breach.
“They have been through a bit of a tough time and have fought hard in their last two games and are in a situation where the play offs are getting a bit further away from them,” he said.
Brown will move Jake Mamo to fullback this week, with Dane Gagai expected to miss Round 12 due to representative commitments.
“The one thing you get from Jake is commitment and effort, which is what we need,” he said.
He believes any inconsistencies in Mamo’s game arise from his young age and limited experience at NRL level.
“He will do that and will work on his technique and I’m sure as the games go by, Jake will continue to improve,” he added.
“He’s a good competitor and good athlete and we are happy we have him.
“These little errors or off days are what happens to young kids and at the end of the day, Jake has only played a handful of first grade games."
The head coach is also hopeful positional stability within the team creates an environment that allows young players to quickly learn and grow.
This applies to 19-year-old Sione Mata’utia, who needs consistency playing at centre.
“I would like to try and leave Sione stable after last year when he had a lot of positions to play,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean he won’t play fullback at some stage, but if we can maintain him in one position shorter term we would like to do that.”
Meanwhile with five-eighths Jarrod Mullen and Brock Lamb ruled out due to injury, Jaelen Feeney is likely to pull on the number six jersey.
“Jaelen played a little bit of fullback at the start of the year and played in the halves in the (NSW Cup) grand final last year,” he said.
“He understands the game well and has a good feel for the game.
“Wherever he does play, he has an awareness of what’s around him. I would expect Jaelen to go out there and play some good footy.
"At the end of the day, he has been with the team all year and whilst he played a little bit at fullback, he has trained in the halves as well and has played with a lot of these guys before, so I wouldn’t expect there to be too many problems for him and will fit in there rather smoothly.”
The Newcastle Knights take on the Parramatta Eels at Hunter Stadium on Monday. CLICK HERE to buy your ticket now.