There is still a lot of unknown about how the nib Newcastle Knights will approach the NRL Nines in less than a fortnight, however, there are certainties that have been unveiled – the special jersey designed by a local artist for the boys to wear, and Kurt Mann and Aidan Guerra will co-captain the squad.
Mann is no stranger to the Nines arena having played in every edition of the tournament since its inception in 2014.
While Round 1 is firmly the focus for the players and coaching staff, Mann is aware of the opportunity the pre-season exhibition provides in being able to showcase and further develop the efforts and tactics they’ve worked on throughout pre-season.
For the former Storm and Dragons man, that is especially true as he looks to knuckle down that No.6 role as his own.
“I haven’t heard much about the squad or anything, but I’m really looking forward to it,” Mann said.
Mann: Nines jersey and five-eighth goals
“Without Pearcey there, I guess I am going to have to take a fair bit of control.
“Nines isn’t the ‘be-all, end-all’, but it is your first chance to put out what you’ve done in pre-season and show what you’ve done all the training for.
“Once we’re out there the competition is going to get going and I’m pretty sure our competitive natures are all going to kick in.
“We’re not going there to lose.”
Having spent much of his junior rugby league playing in the halves, the 26-year-old displayed his excitement and comfort to be back playing in the position he began in.
He’s often displayed much versatility throughout his career, but in 2020, the potential for consistency of one position is exciting him.
“I grew up in the halves…that’s where I enjoy playing the most,” he said.
“I’m feeling really comfortable playing that position and that role in the team.
“It’s been really good for me having a consistent sort-of position at the moment.
“I’m real thankful for Adam to be giving me that chance…I’m going to have to put my best foot forward if I want to get that spot.”
Mann showcased the NRL Nines jersey to the media for the first time alongside the artist responsible for the intricate project, Mitch Resevsky (AKA Mitch Revs).
Local boy Revs’ popularity as an artist has skyrocketed in recent years throughout the Hunter and NSW, and Mann echoed the thoughts most fans have so far indicated.
“We’re very fortunate to have him [Mitch] design our jersey this year,” he said.
“There’s a lot of detail that’s gone in it. I can’t imagine how long it would have taken him to do it.
“There’s sponsors, there’s Old Boys - there’s pretty much all of Newcastle’s personality on there.”
The NRL Nines kick-off on Friday 14 February and continue on 15 February at HBF Park, Perth.