This Saturday, nib Newcastle Knights forward Luke Yates is set to play his first home game for the red and blue as the Club kicks off its 30th year against the Gold Coast Titans.
The McDonald Jones Stadium is a familiar ground to the Wests Newcastle junior, who joined the Knights as a 15-year-old and has progressed through the grades to get his NRL call-up.
The 22-year-old contributed 48 minutes on debut for the Club in last week’s match against the New Zealand Warriors in Auckland.
“I got on a bit earlier than I thought and it was pretty surreal,” Yates explained.
“I went on and looked up and it was Issac Luke and Simon Mannering so I was a bit taken back but once I got into the game, I felt really comfortable.”
Yates is named on the bench for Saturday’s clash against the Titans and maintains he can’t wait to run out in front of a stellar crowd.
“The first home game, it is really exciting,” said Yates.
“I’ve played here a lot of times but not as a first grader.
“ I’ve got about 20 tickets off the Club to get family and friends out there.
“I’ve watched a lot of first grade games here but you hear about how much the boys feed off the crowd and how loud it gets and I’m looking forward to being a part of that.
“I think it will be a big step up in our intensity when the fans start chanting the Newcastle song.”
The Knights forward admits he has noticed the difference in speed of the game after stepping up from Reserve Grade but is confident in his ability this week to make an impact.
“I just have to keep working hard on my defence and the little one-percenters, kick pressure, kick chase and the tackle flow from that,” explained Yates.
“I’ve very confident with preparations this week… last week we made silly errors at the back end of that first half that cost us so against the Titans I think we can clean that up.”
17 of the Club’s most capped players will make an appearance at their Sacred Ground 45 minutes before NRL kick-off on Saturday including Danny Buderus, Paul Harragon and Steve Simpson.
All three grades will be in action at McDonald Jones Stadium, gates open at 10.30am with NRL kicking off at 3pm.