Newcastle Knights v Wentworthville Magpies
Date: Saturday, February 24
Location: Maitland’s no 1. Sportsground
1.Nick Meaney, 2.Ken Sio, 3.Matt Allwood, 4.Cory Denniss, 5.Tom Hughes, 6.Jack Cogger, 7.Brock Lamb, 8.Josh King, 9.Christian Hazard, 10.Pasami Saulo, 11.Sam Stone, 12.Brodie Jones, 13.Luke Yates. Interchange. 14.Jack Johns, 15.Pat Mata’utia, 16.Tyrone Amey, 17.Faitotoa Faitotoa, 18.Thomas Cronan, 19.Bobby Treacy, 20.Harry Van Dartel, 21.Cameron King, 22.Daniel Peck, 23.Chris Randell, 24.Toa Mata’afa, 25.Jacob Gagai
Last time the nib Newcastle Knights Reserve Grade side clashed with the Wentworthville Magpies, they stunned them in the back end of the game to take an impressive win last season.
For the trial match at Maitland on Saturday, the Club’s ISP side has a side stacked with plenty of NRL experience and coach Simon Woolford knows their opponents have a mix of talent set to take the field.
“They’ve got some experience in their team and a couple of young guys who I don’t know much about, so it’s going to be a typical trial,” Woolford said.
“We’ll be trialling some new players, they’ll be doing the same, and as long as we get something out of it, everyone will be happy.”
Reserve Grade’s first trial was a loss against the North Sydney Bears, but Woolford maintained he didn’t place too much emphasis on the result.
“It was more about giving all the part timers a game after a really tough pre-season because they deserve their chance,” explained Woolford.
“This will be a bit different with a lot of the full timers back and mixing a few part timers in with them.
“They haven’t trained much together or played together, so there’s going to be some stages in the game where it’s not going to be pretty, but I’d like to think we’ve got enough experience with (Jack) Cogger and Brock (Lamb) in the halves and (Nick) Meaney at fullback who will be able to get some nice things happening.
“As long as we can get through it injury free and build some combinations, I’ll be happy.”
The ISP coach admits he’s got a fair idea of who his Round 1 team will be, but player performance in the trial will solidify his decision.
The back end of the game will also see some movement of players, who will be needed as backup for first grade.
“We’ll get our chance for about 50 or 60 minutes because a lot of them will be coming off and standing by for Browny (Nathan Brown) in the NRL trial,” explained Woolford.
“We’ll only get about 50 minutes to get some things right and I’d like to think with Cogger, Lamb and Meaney at fullback, it will be enough for us to be ready for Round 1.”
Woolford is also looking forward to watching some new inclusions in his side.
“We do have some new guys like Christian Hazard, so it will be good to see him in the team because he’s certainly had a good full-time pre-season,” Woolford commented.
“Matty Allwood has only just joined us... he’s been around a long time so it will be good to see how he blends in with the rest of the team.
“Junior Roqica will be there, he’s going to come and sit on the bench and we’re going to try and get him some game time depending on how much time Browny wants to give blokes like (Josh) King and (Luke) Yates.
“We’ve done a lot of 13 on 13 work against the NRL boys, so I’d like to think we’ve done enough to be able to perform well in the trial tomorrow.”
With a big change up of players from last year, Woolford admits he has a very polished side for their 2018 campaign but as Reserve Grade goes, things can change quickly.
“There’s a lot of talent right across the board and I’d like to think we’ll have that side all year but it doesn’t work like that” smiled Woolford.
“There’s always injuries, blokes going up and NRL taking 18, 19 fresh so it’s nice to start with this team in the early rounds and hopefully we can take advantage of that and put some good performances in.
“Hopefully those good performances will convert into some wins as last year we didn’t start so well so we’re a lot better placed at this time to start the season well.”