Experienced Starling returns to provide 20s spark

Tom Starling is back for the Newcastle Knights Jersey Flegg side as they fight to keep their grand final hopes alive.

Having made his NRL debut last week, the pint-sized hooker is back in the 20s to provide Todd Lowrie with some much-needed spark.

"He offers a lot for us, Tommy," Lowrie said of the No.9.


"First and foremost, he offers us a lot of energy. He's the leader. One of his big strengths is his efforts like line speed and kick chase.

"He brings a lot of energy out of dummy half which is something we definitely need. His experience now and ability to get us over the advantage line and on a roll is something we'll be looking for this week."

The return of Starling sees Nash Birch return to the halves which forces Tex Hoy back to the bench.

The role of Mr Fix It is one Hoy is familiar with and allows Lowrie the peace of mind that he's well covered in near any role in the event of an injury.

He also provides plenty of x-factor when he does enter into the action, something the team lacked in the first week of the finals.

"He's been around in a few positions this year," Lowrie said.


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"Fullback, five-eighth and in the backline. With Tommy coming back, Nash Birch, who has been one of our best players this year ad mainstay in the halves, goes back into the halves for us.

"That sees Tex goes back to the bench."

With Pasami Saulo and Brodie Jones not eligible to feature in the finals series, Lowrie has the core of his squad available from the best part of the season.

With a much more settled team compared to that which fell to Mounties by a field goal last week, Lowrie is confident his troops can keep their season alive.

"We didn't perform very well last week," Lowrie said.


"We had a very disrupted week as far as the team goes but that doesn't mean anything in finals footy. All the guys we have know what's required.

"This week is a lot more settled for us. The team shouldn't change a lot, if at all. All the guys we have there have played plenty of games and know what's required. They're very capable."

TEAM

1. Matt Cooper, 2. Justin Worley, 3. Starford T'oa, 4. Mitch Andrews, 5. Elijah Rasiga, 6. Nash Birch, 7. Phoenix Crossland, 8. Mathew Croker, 9. Tom Starling, 10. Jirah Momoisea, 11. Kurtis Dark, 12. Beau Fermor, 13. Brandon Russell. Interchange: 14. Tex Hoy, 15. Tevita Alifa, 16. Jack Cameron, 17. Ben Talty

Saturday, September 8 – Final
Newcastle Knights v Sydney Roosters
Kick-off: 5.15pm
Venue: Jubilee Oval