Coach's Say: Round 5
nib Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown said he was disappointed with the loss to the St George Illawarra Dragons on Easter Sunday, but admits the Saints were a worthy competitor.
“We played a very good side and they’re unbeaten for a reason,” explained Brown.
“St George have had some real impressive wins along the way; I feel Jack de Belin really dominated the game which gives a good opportunity for blokes like (Gareth) Widdop and (Ben) Hunt to do their stuff.
“I was disappointed in a couple of little key areas where we needed to be better and we’ve got to get in the mindset now with some good players, to create opportunities for ourselves.
“We’ve got to get some little areas right before the game gets away from us.”
Brown explained that parts of their defence worked well but they weren’t consistent.
“We had other periods where we gave away 30 or 40 metres to the opposition, where we need to put pressure on every kick,” Brown commented.
“We really need to improve that part of our game where we put sides under a little bit more pressure and in the last two games our completions have probably fallen away a bit and then we have had big losses in times of possession.”
Despite Nathan Ross moving to centre following the loss of Tautau Moga with a season ending knee injury, and Ken Sio back onto the wing for his first NRL appearance this year, the side is still fairly unchanged.
“We went into the Dragons game really confident of our performance and all of a sudden we shouldn’t lose confidence in the playing group, but there are certainly some guys that need to fix up areas of their games,” said Brown.
“Ross and Sio trained in the pre-season together when Tau wasn’t in for a lot of the pre-season, so Rossy did a bit of left centre and we’re all confident Ken is a good solid first grade player.
“It was one out, one in rather than change people all over the field and it was just a nice easy way to go.
“Hopefully Rossy will get a bit more ball; they’re both quick, both athletic and like to find their way over the line.”
The head coach has also not ruled out possible changes to bring in players from Reserve Grade.
“Danny Levi has been playing quite well and Luke Yates has been playing quite well... they’re probably our two most consistent performers in Reserve Grade at this stage,” he said.
“(Josh) King and (Jack) Cogger have been a touch up and down but they’re both not too far away and young (Sam) Stone is in a better situation than he was last year too.
“There’s a few blokes starting to put their hand up and get some consistent performances and if they keep playing well and keep a level of consistency, I’m sure they’re not too far from getting an opportunity.”
Brown has also placed his confidence in young half Brock Lamb who has taken up the five-eighth position after Connor Watson’s injury.
“Brock wasn’t quite at the races last week... Junior (Mitchell Pearce) had some good stuff but we’re not rewarding his kicks with our defence,” Brown explained.
“He set up a nice try to get us back in the contest and then we didn’t have enough ball in good position but Brock knows he’s got to pick up his defence and that’s a challenge if you want to be a first grade player in the halves because you’re going to get plenty of traffic.
“Brock is a popular bloke amongst the team so he’s got plenty of support and at the end of the day, the leadership group wanted to give him another shot.
“Everyone knows he’s got plenty of talent, and we’ve all seen what a good player he can be, he showed that last season in a side that was struggling.”
Brown maintains the Broncos are a solid outfit with individual brilliance.
“They’ve got so many individual players with a lot of talent and a lot of blokes that can just do something from nothing,” Brown stated.
“Darius Boyd has been one of the better players of the past decade and when he’s on song he’s an outstanding player and it’s only a matter of time before they win their fair share of games.”