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Coach's Say: Round 8

nib Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown spoke to the media on Tuesday and discussed his plan for the halves following the injury to Mitchell Pearce last week.

Brown said he will pair Jack Cogger with Connor Watson, who is set to return from injury for this week's clash against the Manly Sea Eagles at Lottoland.

"Jack Cogger will take that role," Brown stated.

"Jack along with Brock (Lamb) have been training in and out with Mitchell for three or four months so Jack knows what his role is.

"He played a bit of a different role with Mitchell, but he handled himself very well and we've got a lot of confidence that Jack can go out and do a good job for us.

"Coggs has probably trained for three years for this day, he played in past years when he wasn't ready, but I believe he is ready now.

"His opportunity to play halfback has come through some misfortune for the Club and Mitchell but the time has come for him to be a bit more of a dominant player."

The Knights coach maintains he has trust in his younger players to fill Pearce's spot.

"We have a lot of faith in Coggs and Brock... Brock has gone back to Reserve Grade where he is playing more of a halfback role, which probably does suit him a little bit more, but if he gets himself together and plays really well, we've got confidence in him," Brown explained.

"He did really well at the back end of the year when we were a far worse team and there's no reason why he can't get back into first grade and push his case.

"I'm confident Coggs can boss players around the field and the more confident Jack is, the more confident the team will be in him.

"A lot of it will depend on what our forwards decide to do and they will give Jack a little bit of something to work off and I think, if they put faith in, then he'll have faith in himself and we'll hopefully see a transition from a kid to becoming a first grade footballer."

As a young halves pairing, Watson will also have a big job to do on Friday night on his return and Brown is confident he's got what it takes.

"Connor was probably fit to play last week but we thought we'd give him another week," he said.

"He's keen and hungry and he'll add plenty of speed and plenty of commitment to our team.

"Connor is playing where he has trained all year and Coggs is pretty adaptable."

Now set to watch on from the sidelines, Pearce will take on more of a mentor role.

"I think Mitchell has been one of the form players of the competition, he's come into a young side and he's really led us well, so he was doing a great job for us," Brown commented.

"He was a big part of our team, but Mitchell can still be a big part of our team.

"He's never had a long time off from an injury, he's been a very durable player, but he can play a part in coaching and in presenting team videos.

"We've been trying to add things to his game or change things a little bit to what he was doing at the Roosters, so he can become a bit more of a coach and mentor than just a player.

"He's had a huge impact on the team, so his injury certainly has an effect, but some players will just need to assume a little bit more responsibility."

Despite a disruptive week on and off the field, Brown is certain Manly will still be a force to reckon with come Friday.

"When clubs have got good players, it's a matter of time before they play well again and when you look at Manly and see the two Trbojevic brothers, (Marty) Taupau, (Apisau) Koroisau and (Daley) Cherry-Evans, they're high quality players," Brown said.

"Manly's attack has been dynamite, so those guys playing well is a tough proposition and that's why all we can do is prepare for Manly at their best.

"If we turn up thinking Manly is a bit off the pace, then we'll get ourselves in a lot of trouble."

Meanwhile, Brown has confirmed that if co-captain Jamie Buhrer is on the bench during the game, Aidan Guerra will step up to the captaincy role on the field.

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