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Coach's Say: Round 7

Coach's Say: Round 7

nib Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown thinks it wouldn’t have mattered who the Melbourne Storm played last week, they were in red hot form.

He admits the disappointing thing was his men should have controlled the game better from the start.

“We need to find a way when we’re under huge amounts of pressure to stop that one extra try,” Brown said.

“We feel our attack is certainly improving so the resolve in defence we’ve got to get a lot better at and it’s something the better teams have.”

This Saturday the Knights will have a mountain to climb against the Wests Tigers at Tamworth who are five from six this season and have impressed on all fronts.

Jack Cogger gets his chance in the halves for his first NRL appearance this season, with Brock Lamb dropping back to the ISP side.

“Brock is down on confidence at the moment and Jack had a sensational pre-season,” Brown commented.

 “The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have signed Jack but we made sure that he knew that if his form warranted it, he deserves to get picked.

“Brock needs to get his all round game going and he will probably play a bit of a different role back in Reserves.

“He’ll play more of a halfback on the ball role, whereas he’s been playing a bit more right sided with the first grade side, but it’s certainly one he played well for us last year.”

Meanwhile, influential forward Mitch Barnett is back from a one-match suspension this week and is expected to make all the difference.

“Barney is a good aggressive player, we all love Barney,” smiled Brown.

“Over the course of 18 months, he’s become a consistent player for us but he brings plenty of energy so he’s a really important part of our team.

And young half Connor Watson returned to training on Wednesday and the Knights coach expects he’ll soon be back out on the field.

“It's the first week back in for Connor and we are hopeful he has come through today and hopefully he is available for selection next week,” he explained.

With the scinitillating form the Wests Tigers are experiencing, Brown made comment that coach Ivan Cleary has done a fantastic job to get them to where they are.

“Ivan has created a lot of depth and his cheap buys back from England have done really well so there’s a lot of pressure to perform at the Tigers,” Brown added.

“He’s been in the job for a long time and you’ve got to give a fair bit of credit to what he has created.

“They’re playing some different style of footy but they have a really good attitude and it’s great to see Luke Brooks is playing to the potential he probably a younger player.

“Brooks playing with Benji (Marshall), he’s playing as good as he’s ever played and there’s been a great combination from them.”

So the key to getting a win against the Tigers on Saturday will be mentality, according to Brown.

“We certainly need to be very enthusiastic because that’s one thing they are very good at, and we need to make sure our energy levels and our effort are very good."

“With our attack, they’re obviously forcing a lot of errors in the goal line, so that needs to be smart.

“They’re very aggressive and most sides they have beat this year, their completion rates and their good ball attack, have been very low because the Tigers defence has been very aggressive.”

Meanwhile Brown believes Kalyn Ponga will be a great inclusion to the Queensland Origin side if he gets selected.

“If Kevvie (Walters) decides he’s ready, we’ll certainly be happy for Kalyn but if he decides he’s a year away, we’ll be happy as well,” Brown stated.

“At the end of the day, the challenge for KP is to keep wanting to learn and get better which he always does, and if he keeps doing that we all agree it’s going to happen for him and it’s only going to enhance him as a player for our Club.

“The thing that has been most surprising is his ability to back up and train week in and week out; I don’t think he’s surprising us about what he’s doing but the consistency he’s been doing it for, as a younger player, is probably the highlight.”