Coach's Call: Round 3
nib Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown spoke to the media on a wet Wednesday morning after training.
Brown admitted they’d love to have Jamie Buhrer back for Round 3 following his injury in the season opener and hopefully see Mitch Barnett back on the field, after he failed an HIA early in the clash against the Canberra Raiders on Sunday.
“Jamie Buhrer will have a run today and see how he goes, if he runs well today, he’ll be available,” Brown explained.
“Barney (Mitch Barnett) has passed his test today, he’s got another step or two to go but at the moment he is ticking all the boxes and he’s expected to play.
“Barney was our player of the year last year and he certainly brings a lot of aggression and JB (Jamie Buhrer) being one of our captains, provides a lot of leadership and calm on the field in a lot of situations.
“Ideally they’ll both come through and if either doesn’t, we’ll rely on some of the blokes in Reserve Grade to come and play.”
The coach maintained with a new roster of players this season there’s a lot more belief in what they can do.
“We’ve got some players in key positions who can provide a lot of experience and Kalyn (Ponga) has added a touch of class for us at the fullback role,” said Brown.
“We certainly feel collectively as a group, these guys can put us in a position to win, and take or create some opportunities.”
Preparing for a highly anticipated clash against the Sydney Roosters on Sunday, Brown said there’s been a lot of hype surrounding their encounter with the Sydney club.
“There’s going to be a lot made out of it because we have a fair contingent of former Roosters players and from our Club’s point of view, we are grateful of what we have gained from the Roosters,” he added.
“Credit to their coaching staff, we have four guys who are great guys, great trainers, love to compete and love to win so they provide a lot that’s good for us.
“For Junior (Mitchell Pearce), Connor (Watson) and Aidan (Guerra), it will be the first time they play against their old club but I think all players like to play against their old club because they’re all good mates.”
Brown believes they do have an advantage knowing a bit of background on the Sydney squad.
“They will certainly be able to provide us with some insight,” he commented.
“The Roosters have been a big part of Junior and Aidan’s life and they’ve played the first four or five years under Robbo.
“They’ll have a fair idea but in saying that, Cooper (Cronk) would have brought a bit of change with him and (James) Tedesco brings a different type of player at fullback, so we’ll certainly be asking the guys but as a whole we’d like to concentrate on improving ourselves in some areas.”
Brown admits while it’s been some of his new recruits to receive praise for their last two wins, ultimately, they couldn’t have done it without a whole team approach.
“Junior and Kalyn have probably got a lot of credit for our last two wins but at the end of the day, they needed the other guys to work hard to help them get into a position to win those games,” stated Brown.
“We’ve still got a long way to go and whilst we have won two games, we could have easily lost two games and the mood would be different.
“It’s a tough comp and the Roosters again this week are probably a side that are another step up and have the ability to recruit high profile players, which many are tipping as favourites to win the competition.
“This will be a really good gauge of where we’re at physically because they do have a lot of really big forwards.”