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Slater out but Brown weary of Knights mounting injury toll

News that key playmaker Billy Slater is out this weekend with a dodgy hamstring may be music to the ears of some nib Newcastle Knights players but it still doesn't take the shine off an in-form Melbourne Storm. 

The reigning premiers are still getting the results and that's regardless of whether they've got their danger men on board or not. 

Knights head coach Nathan Brown admits Slater being out has an effect, to some degree, but there's plenty of young talent ready to jump in his spot. 

Brown Q&A Part I: June 30 transfers and recruiting

"Jahrome Hughes is a fine young player and has played a number of games already this season," said Brown.  

"He played last week, and the Storm got a great victory over a Broncos side which has got its fair share of good players as well."  

As for the Knights, they have their fair share of problems as the injury toll mounts.  

For that reason, Brown is certain this Sunday's clash will be a challenging encounter.  

"With a number of injuries, we've got a lot of younger halves out there," Brown added. "They're certainly doing some good things for us, but at times, probably need to manage the game a little bit better.  

"Last week we showed some really good things against a (Sydney) Roosters side so if we can get last week's commitment and effort, improve our kicking options and our last tackle options, we can at least give ourselves a shot."  

And the big news on everyone's lips at the moment is Origin. Will Kalyn Ponga play or won't he? 

Slater is expected to be given the all clear for Origin II next weekend but either way Brown knows a possible Ponga selection is a win win.  

"From a Club point of view what Queensland decide to do, if Kalyn plays, we'll be very happy. If he gets to go to camp, with Billy Slater we'll be happy, so it will be a win win for us as a Club and a win for Kalyn," he said.  

And asked about his opinion on whether it's a gamble to pick Slater for Origin II?  

"I remember watching Billy Slater play his first game back against us in Melbourne last year, he hadn't played for nearly 12 months and he was sensational, so I feel if he's fit, he will play very well," Brown commented.  

"I know Billy is 34/35 now but his form in the NRL has been very good and if his form was waning and he was playing low quality football, I think State of Origin would be a risk, but the quality of football is still there, and I don't think he'd miss a beat."  

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