Last chance for reserve graders to push case for NRL call-up

Stick the name Brodie Jones in your little black book as a player to keep a close eye on.

The name feature on the NRL team sheet for the nib Newcastle Knights this week on an extended bench with the ISP NSW backrower pushing his case for an NRL debut before the year is out.

Already the Knights have debuted Nick Meaney, JJ Felise and most recently Pasami Saulo in the first-grade squad and Nathan Brown could call on at least one more before the season is finished.

Lining up for the final reserve grade game of the season, ISP coach Rory Kostjasyn believes Saturday's clash against Penrith is a prime opportunity for his young guns to show NRL boss Brown how badly they want a shot at the big time.

"What we've seen in recent weeks, is if you're playing consistently well in reserve grade at a high level for a fair chunk of the game, that form does translate into a solid first grade performance," Kostjasyn said.


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"I thought Pasami was really good in his 20 minutes he played, JJ's been doing a good job too and Means was good in his appearnces.

"Hopefully guys like Brodie or our other younger guys, if they get an opportunity or can push their case, they can get some confidence knowing playing well in reserve grade translates to playing well in reserve grade."


While the ISP Knights are a new-look outfit this week, they're flying off following a string of impressive wins.

Kostjasyn believes the change in his side comes down to a new defensive edge.

Since taking over as coach following the exit of Simon Woolford, Kostjasyn has put a renewed emphasis on the work without the ball and it's paying off to finish the season.

"Over the last six weeks, they've started to buy into the style of footy that we've been speaking about playing," Kostjasyn said.

"For me, really focusing on the amount of tries we concede. If you limit a side to one try per game as we have the last two weeks, more often than not, you're going to win the game.


"We've got some reward and found a way to front load our effort into the defensive side of the game for longer periods than what we were able to do when we first started to play that style of footy."

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This weekend, there's no greater test for their defence, than to face the ladder leaders.

The Panthers have conceded 378 points this year, the least of any team in the competition, while the Knights have the worst defensive record with 567 points leaked.


"They're a really hard team to defend because the way they break you a part is a lot of adlib, eyes up footy," he said.

"It's usually coming off an offload or quick play the ball. They've got some good players in their side, a lot of them have played first grade this year and I dare say, a lot will play first grade in the years to come.

"It's a perfect way for us to finish our season, go away and play the best team in the comp."

TEAM

1. Nick Meaney, 2. Tom Hughes, 3. Sarford To'a, 4. Mitch Andrews, 5. Jacob Gagai, 6. Jack Johns, 7. Christian Hazard, 8. Josh King, 9. Luke Yaes, 10. Junior Roqica, 11. Beau Fermor, 12. Brodie Jones, 13. Zac Hosking. Interchange: 14. Matt Cooper, 15. Tyrone Amey, 16. Pat Mata'utia, 17. Bobby Treacy, 18. Jayden Butterfield.

Saturday, August 18 – Round 23 ISP NSW
Panthers v Knights
ISP kick-off: 12.45pm
Venue: Panthers Stadium