The nib Newcastle Knights will be looking to bounce back on Thursday evening when they host the Brisbane Broncos at Central Coast Stadium.
Suffering their first loss of the season against the Melbourne Storm 26-12 last Saturday, Knights second rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon will return after missing the past three weeks with a hamstring injury.
According to NRL.com, Issac Luke looks certain to make his club debut against the Knights after training with the main group on Wednesday.
Luke has been named in the No.18 jersey but he is likely to come onto the bench as back-up for Cory Paix.
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v BRISBANE BRONCOS
Date: Thursday, June 18
Venue: Central Coast Stadium
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. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Edrick Lee, 18. Gehamat Shibasaki, 4. Bradman Best, 5. Hymel Hunt, 6. Kurt Mann, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. David Klemmer, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Daniel Saifiti, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Sione Mata’utia, 16. Tim Glasby. Interchange: 14. Tex Hoy, 15. Jacob Saifiti, 13. Herman Ese'ese, 17. Aidan Guerra.
1. Jamayne Isaako, 2. Corey Oates, 3. Herbie Farnworth, 4. Darius Boyd, 5. Xavier Coates, 6. Anthony Milford, 7. Brodie Croft, 8. Matthew Lodge, 18. Isaac Luke, 10. Payne Haas, 11. Alex Glenn, 12. Tevia Pangai Junior, 13. Patrick Carrigan, 9. Corey Paix, 15. Ben Te'o, 16. Joe Ofahengaue, 17. Thomas Flegler.
Rhys Kennedy and Jamil Hopoate were omitted from the squad on Thursday night.
BUCKING THE BRONCOS
Holding a close rivalry against the Broncos dating back to the club’s inaugural season in 1988, the Knights will be wary of the threat posed by their battling opponents on Thursday evening.
Coming off their first loss of the season last Saturday at the same venue, coach Adam O’Brien will be stressing the importance of competing on every play following a number of minor lapses that proved costly against the Storm.
Showing tremendous resolve to get within six points after trailing 18-0 shortly before halftime last week, look for the side to bounce back in their first Thursday night match in eight years.
WHEN FRIENDS BECOME FOES
Having debuted with the Broncos as an 18-year-old back in 2008, new recruit Andrew McCullough will face off against some familiar faces on Thursday night.
Playing 260 matches to rank fifth on the all-time appearances for Brisbane, the former Queensland representative has provided tremendous service for the Knights since replacing injured hooker Jayden Brailey.
Averaging over 60 tackles in his first two appearances for the Knights, expect McCullough to cause plenty of havoc with and without the ball out of dummy half.
BEANIES FOR BRAIN CANCER
Steeped in Newcastle history for his efforts as part of the 1997 and 2001 premiership winning teams, club great Mark Hughes is making an even greater impact off the field.
Launching the Mark Hughes Foundation in 2014 after being diagnosed with brain cancer a year earlier, Hughes has gone on to raise awareness and millions of dollars for brain cancer research.
Initially scheduled to take place in July, the fourth annual Beanies for Brain Cancer Round will kick-off on Thursday evening with fans encouraged to purchase a beanie to raise funds to support the work of the Mark Hughes Foundation and ultimately help to find a cure.
KNIGHTS STAT ATTACK
Kalyn Ponga recorded 10 tackle breaks in last week’s loss to the Storm.
The Knights are chasing three straight wins over the Broncos for only the third time in history.
BRONCOS STAT ATTACK
Corey Oates has scored 8 tries in 9 appearances against the Knights.
The Broncos hold a 50 per cent record at Central Coast Stadium (2 wins from 4 appearances).
WHERE TO WATCH
Nine (Sydney/Brisbane), GEM (Melbourne/Adelaide/Perth), Foxtel – Fox League (nationally), Sky Sport 4 (New Zealand), 9Now, Kayo Sports, NRL app: Live Pass or Telstra customers, Watch NRL: Not available in Australia, New Zealand or Pacific regions, Radio: ABC, Triple M Sydney/Brisbane, 4BC, NRL Nation