NRL Preview: Round 12

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v PARRAMATTA EELS

Date: Monday May 30
Gates open: 4.30pm
Kick-off: 7pm
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Broadcast: Fox Sports

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Played: 32
Knights: 18
Eels: 14

SQUADS

Knights
1. Jake Mamo, 2. Cory Denniss, 3. Sione Mata’utia, 4. Nathan Ross, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Jaelen Feeney, 7. Trent Hodkinson, 8. Sam Mataora, 9. Danny Levi, 10.Daniel Saifiti, 11. Tariq Sims, 12. Pauli Pauli, 13. Jeremy Smith. Interchange: 14. Tyler Randell, 15. Korbin Sims, 16. Josh King, 17. Mickey Paea, 18. David Bhana, 19. Pat Mata’utia.

Eels
1. Michael Gordon, 2. Semi Radradra, 3. Vai Toutai, 4. Brad Takairangi, 5. Clinton Gutherson, 6. Corey Norman, 7. Kieran Foran, 8. Junior Paulo, 9. Isaac De Gois, 10. Danny Wicks, 11. Manu Ma’u, 12. Beau Scott, 13. Tepai Moeroa. Interchange: 14. Kaysa Pritchard, 15. Peni Terepo, 16. David Gower, 17. Kenny Edwards.

TALKING POINTS

The age gap

The team the Knights have named to run out on Monday has an average age of 23, and if Smith is unable to recover from injury that number could drop to 22.

The Eels meanwhile have an average age of 26. While three years doesn’t sound like much, three seasons of football equates to 72 games per player, or more than 1000 games as a team.  

It’s all part of the learning experience for the young Knights though, and the important game time required for the tyros to develop themselves as players.

Gagai on Origin duty

Gagai has been rewarded for his committed performances this year with a Maroons jersey in Origin one.

While the Knights will miss him dearly, it will be a great experience for Gagai.

“I’m happy they stuck by him and I’m sure he’ll make a good account of himself,” Brown said.

“I think one of his greatest attributes is that he is a good competitor and I think that is a prerequisite for any Origin player.”

Mamo returns to the back

Jake Mamo has been named to replace Gagai at fullback for the Knights, where he did some great work in the latter rounds of last year.

The energetic speedster from the Central Coast averaged 164 metres per a game and scored four tries in nine appearances.

“It’s definitely a different position and you have to do more than when you’re on the wing,” Mamo said on Wednesday.

“I got through the game on the weekend so that gives me a lot of confidence.” 

Feeney in the halves

On the positive side, Jaelen Feeney is set to play his fourth NRL game and first in the halves.

He has played the vast majority of his football as a five-eighth and as such will fit the role like a glove.

His running game and ability to create something out of nothing will complement Trent Hodkinson’s organisational skills and provide a timely boost to the red and blues.

“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,” Brown explained. 

“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.”

THE FINAL SAY

“Being consistent is tough for all NRL players and that’s the difference between the good teams and the bad teams,” coach Brown explained in his press conference.

“We need to keep working away at the processes and trying to get that right.”