The nib Newcastle Knights face the Warriors at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night in a clash set to test the side’s depth.
With a host of players unavailable due to injury and Origin selection, coach Nathan Brown has made a number of changes headlined by Jacob Saifit making his first appearance since Round 11, 2018.
Chasing back-to-back wins following last week’s 26-12 win over Brisbane, utility Kurt Mann will make his 100th appearance in the NRL on Saturday night.
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Date: Saturday, July 6
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
1. Connor Watson, 2. Hymel Hunt, 3. Kurt Mann, 4. Jesse Ramien, 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6. Mason Lino, 14. Jamie Buhrer, 8. James Gavet, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Jacob Saifiti, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Sione Mata'utia, 15. Herman Ese'ese. Interchange: 16. Josh King, 17. Pasami Saulo, 18. Aidan Guerra, 19. Brodie Jones, 20. Tex Hoy, 21. Tautau Moga, 22. Jirah Momoisea, 23. Phoenix Crossland
1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (C), 2 David Fusitu’a, 3 Peta Hiku, 4 Patrick Herbert, 5 Ken Maumalo, 6 Kodi Nikorima, 7 Blake Green, 8 Agnastius Paasi, 9 Karl Lawton, 10 Leeson Ah Mau, 11 Adam Blair, 12 Isaiah Papali’I, 13 Jazz Tevaga. Interchange: 14 Issac Luke, 15 Bunty Afoa, 16 Sam Lisone, 17 Lachlan Burr, 18 Gerard Beale, 20 Ligi Sao, 21 Leivaha Pulu, 22 Chanel Harris-Tavita
Having used just 22 players in first grade so far this season, Saturday night will see the side’s depth come to the forefront.
Facing off against his former club for the first time, Samoan international Mason Lino will be out to impress following a starring performance against Brisbane.
The Knights will have high hopes of knocking off the Warriors having won three of the past four clashes contested in Newcastle.
SATURDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
For only the seventh time this decade, the Knights will host a match on Saturday night at 7.35pm.
Usually scheduled matches at McDonald Jones Stadium over the weekend in the daytime or Friday 6pm, the timing of Saturday’s fixture will make for an unfamiliar experience for many players, but one that the side will be more than prepared to overcome with two premiership points on the line.
Losing their previous five clashes in the timeslot prior to knocking off the Broncos last April, expect another strong turnout from the Newcastle faithful to spur the side towards their ninth win of the season.
MANN OF THE MOMENT
Coming a long way from playing in the Knights Under 20s system before debuting with Melbourne back in 2014, Kurt Mann will play his 100th game in first grade on Saturday evening.
Spending time with the Storm and Dragons before returning to the Hunter on a three-year-deal at the beginning of this season, the 26-year-old Queenslander has been an unsung hero for the Knights in 2019, coming off the bench as an impact hooker, filling in at fullback when required, along with forming a budding partnership alongside Mitchell Pearce in the halves.
KNIGHTS STAT ATTACK
The Knights have used 22 players in first grade over the first 15 rounds - the fewest number of players used by any club this season.
WARRIORS STAT ATTACK
Ken Maumalo leads the NRL for post contact metres (846) and ranks second overall for metres gained (2,381).
Knights v Warriors at McDonald Jones Stadium, 5.20pm Sunday.
All Jersey Flegg teams have the bye.