New Zealand Warriors V Newcastle Knights

Date: Sunday March 5
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
Kick-off: 9:45am (AEST)

SQUADS

Newcastle

1.Matt Cooper, 2. Cory Denniss, 3. Brayden Musgrove, 4. Heath Gibbs, 5. Kainoa Gudgeon, 6. Jack Johns, 7. Hayden Loughrey, 8. Jayden Butterfield, 9. Tom Starling, 10. Cameron King, 11. Henry Penn, 12. Sam McIntyre, 13. Zac Hosking. Interchange: 14. Kurtis Dark, 15. Eddy Tuilotolava, 16. Pasami Saulo, 17. Viko Puliuvea, 18. Mitch Andrews, 19. Nash Birch, 20. Tavita Fesolai, 21. Dylan Clark, 22. Dean Kouka-Smith, 23. Brendan O'Hagan.

New Zealand

1.Kane Telea, 2. Lewis Soosemea, 3. Melino Fineanganofo, 4. Matt Faitotoa, 5. Edward Vaeau-Mulitalo, 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita, 7. Eiden Ackland, 8. Kenese Kenese, 9. Chris Sio, 10. Jordan Pinnock, 11. Joe Vuna, 12. Shane Hannam, 13. Soane Hufanga. Interchange: 14. Dylan Tavita, 15. Tayhler Poara, 16. Jerome Mamea, 17. Elijah Sufia, 18. Nathan Newton, 19. Lee Turner, 20. Gibson Popoalii, 21. Auzzie Tuwhangai, 22. Havi Tupouniua, 23. Utah Ioka.

MATCH ANALYSIS

A number of players will be making their Under 20s debuts for the Knights, with new halves pairing Jack Johns and Hayden Loughrey the most notable.

19-year-old Johns, Matthew Johns’ eldest son, has been playing in the Sydney Shield, in which he made 21 appearances while Loughrey has come from the North Tamworth Bears.

After losing Jack Cogger and Brock Lamb to reserve and first grade respectively, NYC coach Todd Lowrie went about searching for a new halves combination.

“Those two guys have really stood out to us in the off-season,” he said of Johns and Loughrey.

“They kind of picked themselves.

"We didn’t really have to make that tough decision, they trained really well.”

The squad's forward pack is expected to stand up against a strong Warriors outfit, with Jayden Butterfield, Cameron King and Jordan Pinnock bringing plenty of experience.

“Our forward pack is quite a big pack, compared to the squad we had last year," Lowrie divulged.

"We have quite a number of big boys."

WHERE IT WILL BE WON

The coach believes attitude towards defence will make all the difference.

“If they can get the defence sorted out then hopefully that will put them in good stead to progress through the grades of this club,” he explained.