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AOB: ‘Next man up’ mentality needed to cover injury toll

Injuries have been aplenty in 2020 for the nib Newcastle Knights and they’ve been “heartbreaking” for coach Adam O’Brien to watch occur. 

Jayden Brailey, Andrew McCullough, Blake Green and Connor Watson are all part of this year’s season-ending causality ward and although it’s caused major re-shuffling to the squad on a consistent basis, it’s a factor the team shouldn’t allow to affect their mindset according to O’Brien.

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“You’re a squad, you’re not a team,” the Knights coach said whilst speaking on World Wide of Sports Radio.

“You’ve got to have that ‘next man up’ mentality. It’s the nature of the sport.

“The hardest thing with it all is, not about the player you’re losing and what sort of team you're going to have to roll out next week, but it’s more about the player themselves. They put so much work into getting out there and to see the heartache in the eyes and to listen to them after, it’s really heartbreaking as a coach.”

Following on from a disappointing match against the Warriors, O’Brien confessed the team had an honest assessment regarding their performance and addressed ways to make sure they kick back into gear as the competition enters it’s pointy end.

While a few observations were made by the squad that needs addressing going forward, the coach’s confidence in the team hasn’t wavered.

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“We had a really thorough review, and we’re really disappointed with the performance we put on the weekend,” he said.

“The day-games seem to be an issue for us. One of the things that was highlighted, was the travel on game-days.

“There was a lot of structure around those day-games [prior to COVID], and we’ve probably lacked that game-day preparation. It’s clearly a mental state for us so we need to address it and get on with it really quickly.

“We’ve been ‘patchy’ and you certainly don’t want to go into the back-end of the season as patchy.

“I haven’t lost faith in what the team can produce as long as we turn up with the right mindset…In some of the games against quality opposition, we’ve put together a good brand of football. Hopefully we can finish the season the way we started and get on a real roll.”

O’Brien nears the end of his first year as an NRL Head Coach and borders on taking the Club to finals footy with this weekend’s game against fellow top-eight Sharks side looking an all-important clash.

The Knights host Cronulla on Friday night at 6pm at McDonald Jones Stadium.