At the beginning of the season, many question marks were raised over who was going to partner Mitchell Pearce in the halves for the nib Newcastle Knights and while many doubts were cast over Adam O’Brien’s selection of Kurt Mann, the five-eighth has proved many wrong, including club legend Andrew Johns.
The former Dragons and Storm man currently sits in the top 10 for try assists with a total of five and has also scored two himself while also running for over 105 metres per game and with a tackle efficiency of 88%.
While Joey initially thought another, younger name should have been considered for the role, following Mann’s strong start to the year, the Great Man has admitted he was wrong.
“Before a ball was kicked, I was quite worried about the 6 position,” Johns said.
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“I was quite vocal in thinking they should maybe try to groom Tex Hoy in there.
“He’s proved me wrong.”
While Pearce often takes the role of leading the kicking game, Mann has also shown in recent weeks he’s more than up to the task of taking over if needed.
In addition to that, his defensive efforts have also been praised by many, including Johns who has been impressed by his natural ability in the halves.
“I’d seen him play fullback and a bit of utility, but didn’t see him as a five-eighth, but he’s doing a great job,” he said.
“He laid a couple of tries on last week. His short kicking game - it doesn’t matter what tackle he just backs himself which is a sign of a very good instinctive player.
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“Defensively he’s very strong too.
“I think he’s going really well.”
Mann once again dons the No.6 jersey this weekend when the Knights take on the Cowboys in a match the Eighth Immortal believes is one the Knights should win.
Going off recent games, Joey believes the strong left-side edge footy the side have been showing it will be too tough for North Queensland to defend.
“Where the Knights strength is is where the weakness is for the Cowboys,” he said.
“If you weigh it up on-form…it only points to a Knights victory.”
The Knights play the Cowboys on Saturday afternoon with kick-off scheduled for 3pm.