Football returns to Newcastle this weekend after a six month absence.

New recruits such as Jamie Buhrer and Josh Starling will be playing their first games in front of the red and blue faithful, as the Club looks to earn it’s first win of the 2017 season against the Gold Coast Titans.

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v GOLD COAST TITANS

Date: Saturday March 11
Gates open: 10.30am
Kick-off: 3pm
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Played: 16
Knights: 9
Titans: 7

SQUADS

Newcastle

1. Brendan Elliot, 2. Ken Sio, 3. Dane Gagai, 4. Peter Mata’utia, 5. Nathan Ross, 6. Brock Lamb, 7. Trent Hodkinson, 8. Daniel Saifiti, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Josh Starling, 11. Sione Mata’utia, 12. Jamie Buhrer, 13. Mitch Barnett. Interchange: 14. Luke Yates, 15. Jack Stockwell, 16. Sam Stone, 17. Jacob Saifiti, 18. Tyler Randell, 19. Chanel Mata’utia, 20. Josh King, 21. Anthony Tupou.

Gold Coast

1. Jarryd Hayne, 2. Anthony Don, 3. Dan Sarginson, 4. Konrad Hurrell, 5. William Zillman, 6. Kane Elgey, 7. Ash Taylor, 8. Jarrod Wallace, 9. Tyrone Roberts, 10. Ryan James, 11. Kevin Proctor, 12. Chris McQueen, 13. Leivaha Pulu. Interchange: 14. Karl Lawton, 15. Nathaniel Peteru, 16. Agnatius Paasi, 17. Joe Greenwood, 18. Paterika Vaivai, 19. Max King, 20. Eddy Pettybourne, 21. Tyronne Roberts-Davis.

TALKING POINTS

Top tacklers

In Round 1 Mitch Barnett and Jamie Buhrer were two of the most effective tacklers in the competition, both registering 100 per cent accuracy and 49 and 42 tackles respectively.

And in general the whole team looked more resilient in defence against a Warriors side renowned for their attacking flair.

If not for a horror 15-minute period before half time, the red and blues looked good odds to grind out a win across the Tasman.

“We were in control and had them on the ropes, then we had a bad 15 minute period,” coach Nathan Brown said on Tuesday.

“We were good enough to get back to the front but we weren’t good enough to play the game out.”

No doubt defence will be the focus leading into Round 2, as the Knights have already demonstrated that they can score points when required.

Barnett building at lock

The newly re-signed Mitch Barnett was easily one of the Club’s best in Round 1, earning the Players’ Player award.

On top of his 49 tackles he also made 15 runs for 126 metres in 61 minutes.

He will be looking to continue his good form this Saturday, again named at lock.

“For our first home game hopefully we get a big crowd out there,” Barnett said on Monday.

“We’re all pumped, it’s a short turnaround for us so we need to rip into training this week,” Barnett said.

Barnett and his fellow forwards will be up against an intimidating forward pack that boasts the likes of Ryan James, Kevin Proctor and Chris McQueen.

New fullback

It was a luckless and premature end to the 2017 season last weekend for Dylan Phythian, as he succumbed to an ACL injury.

18th man in round one, Brendan Elliot steps in to fill the vacant fullback position, which he played for most of his junior years.

While to date he’s played exclusively as a winger or centre in first grade, Elliot is confident heading into this Saturday’s match.

Club legends return

17 of the Club’s most capped players will be making at appearance on Saturday approximately 45 minutes before kick off.

Club legends such as Danny Buderus, Andrew Johns, Paul Harragon, Matthew Johns and Steve Simpson will come out onto the field to help celebrate the rich history of the red and blue jersey.

With nearly 3,000 games of NRL experience, the group will include 11 NSW representatives, ten premiership winners, seven Australian representatives, six Club captains, two foundation players and two Dally M medallists.

“It’s not only exciting for us, it’s exciting for the town…. we’re all looking forward to it and they’re presenting the jerseys so everybody can’t wait for it,” Elliot said.

THE FINAL SAY

“It’s the only ground I’ve never played first grade at, so I’m really excited,” new recruit Josh Starling said on Wednesday.

“They’ve got some very good players and Ryan James is their leader in the forwards, so we have a massive job.”