nib Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown says it was encouraging to see a number of his players called up for red round duty on the weekend.
Winger Nathan Ross and reserve grade regular Pauli Pauli teamed up in Sunday’s final City v Country showdown.
“Pauli (Pauli) got limited time but I think he was stoked to be out there,” said Brown.
“It was a good reward for getting his weight down after going through such a horrific injury.
“(Nathan) Rossy played pretty solid, his good and bad are never far apart these days, he’s always in and around the ball and I was pleased for him watching him play and saw his contribution.”
The Knights coach is adamant a few bumps and bruises won’t keep them on the sidelines.
“He is (Nathan Ross) a bit tight but nothing that should be anything other than a bit of game soreness,” commented Brown.
As for the Saifiti twins, who played in the Pacific Test for Fiji, Brown admits they have pulled up well.
“Mick Potter was happy with them and that was pleasing,” he said.
“They had a bit of a heartbreaking loss at the end, they’ve been through a few of those so I’m sure they’re well accustomed to that unfortunately.”
While Brown admits the Mata’utia brothers will be feeling it from the weekend.
“Sione has got a busted nose but nothing that is going to keep him out of footy moving forward,” Brown explained.
“Pete (Mata’utia) is going to be a little sore as well.”
Coming off a successful weekend against the Kiwis, junior Kangaroo Sam Stone will also be nursing some sore spots.
“He is not in any doubt at this stage to play but he’s certainly picked up a few bumps and bruises,” Brown said.
Big forward Sam Mataora also took the field for the Cook Islands.
“The different nations, all the Polynesian boys get to represent their different nations and they’re into their culture heavily,” explained Brown.
“Anytime any one of them gets picked they all certainly enjoy it and want to be a part of it.
“I am sure he (Sam Mataora) enjoyed it and he didn’t flag that he’s not fit to play.”
The Knights coach believes the weekend off for most of his players will serve them well.
“This time last year was probably our best growth period because of the players being so young and inexperienced,” Brown admitted.
“Any time they can get some individual coaching, positional coaching and have time off so they can put a lot of emphasis on their training is good for our club.
“In this next six or seven weeks, we have a couple of Sunday games which is a long turnaround, they’re both at home which is great and then we come into another bye so we get in a lot of training days which for us is really important.”
Meanwhile Brown says young halfback Jack Cogger is getting closer to his return from injury.
“I don’t think he will be right this week but they’re planning on if everything goes smoothly for him to play the following week,” said Brown.
“He is only a young kid and has been out for a long period of time, it was a big operation he had so generally the best course is that he plays some lower grade footy first and puts his pressure on from there.”