Everything you need to know for 2019

The 2019 season is finally here.

It's been five seasons since the nib Newcastle Knights last played finals football and there is genuine belief they can get back there in 2019.

After an impressive recruitment drive over the off-season and the rapid rise of some of the younger players in the squad, fans are expecting big things.

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Here is your guide to what to expect in 2019.

TRIAL GAMES


Trial matches are always a great way for teams to test combinations and give younger players a crack at playing NRL quality football.

The first trial match of 2019 will be on February 23, when the Knights travel to Kogarah to play St George Illawarra.

A week later, the Knights will face off against Cronulla on Saturday, March 2 at Maitland No.1 Sportsground.

KEY RECRUITS

David Klemmer

You know what you're going to get from David Klemmer.


He's done it all in the NRL and is the perfect player to lead the Knights forward pack in 2019.

A lot of pundits have compared Klemmer to Knights legend Paul Harragon, but the 25-year-old is here to create is own legacy in Newcastle.

He's primed for a big season and will be a big factor to whether or not the Knights go deep in the competition.

Jesse Ramien

In 2018, Ramien took the NRL by storm in his first season in the NRL.

Still only 21, Ramien scored 10 tries in 20 appearances and will fit perfectly into the centres.

When Tautau Moga returns from injury, the Knights will field one of the biggest backlines in the competition.

He's a State of Origin prospect for the upcoming season, so look for him to start the year off on a bang.


Tim Glasby

What's not to like about Tim Glasby?

He's a representative forward, won grand finals and has never not played in a finals series.

He has a great training ethic and is a workhorse on the football field.

He's a natural leader and will be vital for this Knights team in 2019.

NRL.COM PREDICTED ROUND ONE TEAM


With a drastic turnaround of players, the Knights will field a very different side from a year ago.

Here is what NRL.com has predicted the Knights Round 1 team to look like:

1. Connor Watson
2. Shaun Kenny-Dowall
3. Jesse Ramien
4. Hymel Hunt
5. Edrick Lee
6. Kalyn Ponga
7. Mitchell Pearce
8. David Klemmer
9. Danny Levi
10. Tim Glasby
11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon
12. Sione Mata'utia
13. Aidan Guerra
14. Kurt Mann
15. Daniel Saifiti
16. Herman Ese'ese
17. James Gavet


INJURIES

The injured players and their expected return dates:

Hymel Hunt (Shoulder - Round 1)
Tautau Moga (ACL - Early Rounds)
Jacob Saifiti (Leg - Indefinite)
Slade Griffin (ACL - Indefinite)


HOME GAMES

The Knights start the season off with five home games in the first seven Rounds of the season.

Getting off to a strong start is vital for a successful season.

Even though it's a new year, the Knights only play six games at home against teams who finished in the top eight a season ago.


Here is the list of the home games in 2019:

Rd1 – Cronulla Sharks
Rd2 – Penrith Panthers
Rd4 – St George Illawarra Dragons
Rd 5 – Manly Sea Eagles
Rd7 – Parramatta Eels
Rd11 – Sydney Roosters
Rd 15 – Brisbane Broncos
Rd 16 – New Zealand Warriors
Rd 17 – Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Rd19 – Wests Tigers
Rd 22 – North Queensland Cowboys
Rd 24 – Gold Coast Titans

AWAY GAMES


For teams to be successful in the NRL, they must win games on the road.

The Knights struggled away from home last season, only winning five games.

Here is the list of away games in 2019:

Rd 3 – Canberra Raiders
Rd 6 – Gold Coast Titans
Rd 8 – New Zealand Warriors
Rd 9 – Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Rd 10 – St George Illawarra Dragons
Rd 13 – South Sydney Rabbitohs
Rd 14 – Melbourne Storm
Rd 18 – Sydney Roosters
Rd 20 – Manly Sea Eagles
Rd 21 – Parramatta Eels
Rd 23 – West Tigers
Rd 25 – Penrith Panthers

YOUNG GUNS TO WATCH

Zac Woolford

He should have made his NRL debut by now but a serious injury in 2018 stopped that from happening.

So Woolford has made the move to the Knights for another crack at making the NRL.

He's a hardworking hooker who punches above his weight in defence.

With an injury to Slade Griffin, Woolford could find himself in the 17 at some point in 2019.

Starford To'a

To'a started last season in SG Ball where he was the second leading try scorer in the competition.

He was later promoted to Jersey Flegg where he impressed.

He has just finished representing the Australian Schoolboys in their tour of England at the end of last year.

He's a strong outside back with some serious pace and fancy footwork.

Beau Fermor

Fermor is already well known amongst Knights fans after a very strong 2018 season.

He was named Jersey Flegg Play of the Year at the NSWRL awards night and was named the 2018 20s Player of the Year for the Knights.

The strong backrower was the leading try scorer in the Jersey Flegg with 14.

He's an exciting prospect and will be hoping to crack the NRL squad in 2019.