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Barnett suspension opens door for team changes

Nathan Brown has options.

With Test football on Saturday, State of Origin set to unfold on Sunday and Mitch Barnett sidelined for three weeks as a result of suspension, the nib Newcastle Knights could be forced to make several changes to their side.

The Knights return to McDonald Jones Stadium in Round 15 when they host Brisbane on Saturday and coach Brown expects he will need to tweak his squad.

The Knights have seven players featuring in the representative round this week, while Barnett copped a three-game ban for a grade three dangerous contact offence.

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With Aidan Guerra turning out in Canterbury Cup last week, the veteran looms as an option to fill the void left by Barnett.

Or Brown could call on Sione Mata’utia to jump into the starting side which would allow the coach to shift around his bench.

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With another week to consider his options, Brown said he would sit down and review Guerra’s 40 minute stint before making a call on his side to face the Broncos on June 29.

“I’ll watch the game and have a look,” Brown said.

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“Josh King has been playing well for us, not that Josh is a back rower.

“Josh has been very good.

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“Kingy is someone who can come back into the team.

“Jacob is starting to play well now he’s getting going.

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“There’s a number of things we need to look at but we’ve got a couple of weeks to do that.

“Barney’s suspension will open the door for somebody.”

After a six-game winning streak, the Knights went down to Melbourne 34-4 but remain in the top eight.

Sitting in fifth spot, the next challenge is the Broncos.

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But reflecting on the loss last weekend, Brown said his troops will need to have a close look at themselves before worrying about the opposition.

“We’ll be focusing a lot more on what we can do right,” Brown said.

“We’d certainly would like to control the ball a little bit better and give ourselves a good chance of doing the things that we’ve done well for the past six weeks. That would be a good starting point.”