Newcastle Knights v Brisbane Broncos
Date: Saturday July 15
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
1. Matt Cooper, 2. Mitch Andrews, 3. Kyle Smith, 4. Heath Gibbs, 5. Kainoa Gudgeon, 6. Kurtis Dark, 7. Jack Johns, 8. Cameron King, 9. Nash Birch, 10. Matt Croker, 11. Henry Penn, 12. Sam McIntyre, 13. Zac Hosking. Interchange: 14. Hayden Loughrey, 15. Will Finau, 16. Brodie Jones, 17. Jayden Butterfield. 18. Pasami Saulo, 19. Kye Hopwood, 20. Viko Puliuvea, 21. Dylan Clark, 22. Gary Anderson, 23. Tom Starling.
1. Corey Allan, 2. David Fauid, 3. Kotoni Staggs, 4. Gehamat Shibasaki, 5. Herbie Farnworth, 6. Haydyn O’Hara, 7. Gerome Burns, 8. Payne Haas, 9. Tyson Smoothy, 10. Jai Whitbread, 11. Brandon Russell, 12. Keenan Palasia, 13. Patrick Carrigan. Interchange: 14. Eddie Blacker, 15. Rory Ferguson, 16. Ed Burns, 17. Dray Ngatuere-Wroe, 18. Brayden Dee, 19. Thane Kellemever, 20. Trai Fuller, 21. Tristan Hope, 22. Lachlan Barr.
NYC Newcastle Knights coach Todd Lowrie admits he was looking to change things up after switching Jack Johns from the second row back in to the halves last week.
Again, Johns will remain in the number seven jersey for the Under 20s encounter with the Brisbane Broncos on Saturday.
“Jack has probably played more in the halves for us than he has in the back row this year, so not anything I was overly worried about,” explained Lowrie.
“I know he’ll do a really good job.”
Brodie Jones, who returned from a long-term injury, played his first game of the season last week and is set to be in the mix again on Saturday.
“He probably played a little bit longer than we were expecting him to because of the way the game went with injuries, but he got through fine so he’ll come back off the bench for us this week,” said Lowrie.
“It is just about Brodie trying to get himself back from injury and hopefully contributing something to the team when he’s got a bit of match fitness under his belt.”
Junior Knights SG Ball talent Matt Croker again gets to start at prop.
“Croker has done a good job, he has played in SG Ball and has come in and made the most of his opportunities,” said the Under 20s coach.
“Pasami (Saulo) has gone up to Reserve Grade and Croker has had a couple of chances to start this year and he’s done really well every time."
The Broncos may be sitting at equal eighth on the ladder with the Parramatta Eels, but only have one less win than the Knights, who remain in fourth place.
“They are a good team the Broncos and they’re actually doing things really well,” commented Lowrie.
“The actual standings on the table probably don’t reflect how they are travelling.
“They are a big strong typical Broncos side that run hard and play a very physical sort of game so we’re certainly going to have to be ready for a physical challenge that’s for sure.”
The NYC coach knows that being back at home always helps.
“Our guys loving playing at home,” said Lowrie.
“We have had a lot of success and we’ve only lost one or two at home this year.
“It is always good to play at McDonald Jones Stadium; the guys always get a big kick out of it.”
Where it will be won
Lowrie maintains a highly physical encounter will again be the focus this week.
“We need to make sure we are physically and mentally prepared to come up against a big challenge and on top of that, I know I say it every week, our ball control is vital,” Lowrie stated.
“We completed at 91 per cent in the first half last week and we were up 16-0 and we completed at 60 something per cent in the second half and found ourselves 28-all.
“Particularly sorting out our completions, getting through our sets and holding onto the ball is vital if you’re going to give yourself a chance to win.”