The nib Newcastle Knights will be raring to go against the Penrith Panthers when Round 3 of the 2020 NRL season resumes on Sunday afternoon.
The Panthers have made a change to their bench with Liam Martin and Kaide Ellis omitted from the squad and Billy Burns promoted from the reserves to the bench.
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v PENRITH PANTHERS
Date: Sunday, May 31
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
Joey and AOB: Rookies to watch, spine plan, leadership
FOLLOW THE ACTION
If you can't catch the game on TV or radio, the Knights will be blogging the game at newcastleknights.com.au.
1. Tex Hoy, 2. Edrick Lee, 3. Enari Tuala, 18. Bradman Best, 5. Hymel Hunt, 6. Kurt Mann, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. David Klemmer, 9. Connor Watson, 10. Daniel Saifiti, 17. Aidan Guerra, 12. Sione Mata'utia, 13. Herman Ese'ese. Interchange: 14. Chris Randall, 15. Jacob Saifiti, 16. Tim Glasby, 19. Brodie Jones.
1. Caleb Aekins, 2. Josh Mansour, 3. Dean Whare,14. Stephen Crichton, 5. Brian To'o, 6. Matt Burton, 7. Jarome Luai, 8. James Tamou (c), 9. Api Koroisau, 10. James Fisher-Harris, 11. Viliame Kikau, 12. Kurt Capewell, 13. Isaah Yeo, INTERCHANGE: 15. Zane Tetevano, 16. Moses Leota, 19. Billy Burns, 18. Mitch Kenny.
Sione: Confidence in knee, ready for NRL return
KNIGHTS STAT ATTACK
The Knights are chasing three straight wins to open a season for the first time since 2015.
Sione Mata’utia will make his first appearances of the season.
PEARCE TO PERFORM
Starting the season in fine form to lead the premiership in try-assists (3), Newcastle halfback Mitchell Pearce will be determined to assert his authority as one of the elite playmakers in the league.
Having trained alongside Kalyn Ponga and Jayden Brailey over the off-season as part of a potent spine combination, Pearce will need to draw upon his experience to guide the side home as debutants Tex Hoy and Chris Randall find their feet in first grade.
RESTARTING THE SEASON
Nine weeks after downing the Wests Tigers on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Leichhardt Oval, the Knights will return to the field determined to pick up where they left off under new coach Adam O’Brien.
Showing plenty of promise with and without the ball in their first two performances, the Knights will have a point to prove against the unbeaten Panthers having been humbled 54-10 when they last clashed in the final round of 2019.
Andrew McCullough on film. Day One
Set to play behind closed doors as was the case for their last match back in March, the team will need to adjust to the return of one referee and the introduction of a new set of six for ruck infringements.
NEW NUMBER ONE
Touted as one of the best young talents at the club following an impressive showing in the Perth 9’s back in February, 20-year-old utility Tex Hoy will get his first taste of the NRL on Sunday afternoon.
Coming into the fullback role with Kalyn Ponga out suspended (shoulder charge), the Souths Newcastle junior has been a shining light in the lower grades earning the Knights’ Canterbury Cup Player of the Year award and representing New South Wales in the Under 20s Origin last season.
Highly regarded amongst the playing group and contracted until the end of 2021, Hoy is in contention to take on the added responsibility of kicking goals in his first grade debut.
PANTHERS STAT ATTACK
The Panthers have won 9 of their past 11 matches against the Knights.
The game will be broadcast live on Channel 9, NBN, Fox Sports 502, Kayo, Triple M, ABC and NRL Nation.