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Scrimmage games providing opportunity to impress

The nib Newcastle Knights have held two scrimmage games so far this year in lieu of the Canterbury Cup and under 20s competitions being abandoned.

Aside from providing an opportunity to gain match fitness, it provides the players who miss out on NRL selection with a chance to impress the coaching staff.

Having faced North Queensland and Manly in successive weeks, GM of Football, Danny Buderus said several squad members are staking their claim for an NRL recall.

The Knights played Manly on Monday in a 60 minute 11 on 11 scrimmage which featured the likes of Mason Lino, Gehamat Shibasaki and Josh King.

When quizzed on standout performers against the Sea Eagles, Buderus offered; “Chris Randall, Brodie Jones and the guys that had first grade experience went well. For a new name, Simi (Sasagi) was pretty lively.

“These guys are turning in every day helping first grade to be better and they’re not getting any games at the end of the week.

“The teams that have participated in these over the last couple of weeks have all said the benefits are the wellbeing and the mindset of the players to pull on the colours and pull on the jersey after all their hard work during the week.

“We’ve had two games now and we’ll look to have hopefully another three.”

The Knights will have a scrimmage game with Parramatta on Sunday in what will be their third game of this kind.

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With injuries at all clubs creeping up, maintaining match fitness has never been more important for the players on the cusp of an NRL opportunity.

“You’re looking at the injury rate starting to stack up at a lot of clubs and we’re getting our fair share as well,” Buderus said.

“Those guys (Randall and Jones) don’t realise how close they are to getting a run. Gehamat (Shibasaki) played (on Monday) and he’s had a bit of first grade experience.

“To get a long way into this competition this year, you need a really deep squad. These guys have to keep motivated and they all have to keep fit and a big part of that is the mindset to compete and hit something different from a teammate.”

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Only last week, Pasami Saulo produced a strong showing in the Cowboys scrimmage match and was rewarded with a place on the first-grade bench the following week.

“I’ll use Pasami Saulo as a talking point, last week he played the scrimmage for 10 minutes and blew himself out, and then was all the better for it against Manly (in the NRL),” Buderus said.

“It gave him a bit of confidence going into that game knowing he’d had a bit of a hit out.”