The nib Newcastle Knights take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium on Sunday afternoon in an Elimination Final.
Returning to the play-offs for the first time in seven years, Lachlan Fitzgibbon comes into the side following last Friday’s 36-6 loss to the Titans.
The Rabbitohs welcome back Jaydn Su’A into the team following the completion of his one-match suspension.
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Date: Sunday, October 4
Venue: ANZ 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.
Sights and Sounds: Open training and Klemmer gesture
1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Edrick Lee, 3. Enari Tuala, 4. Bradman Best, 5. Hymel Hunt, 9. Kurt Mann, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. David Klemmer, 14. Chris Randall, 10. Daniel Saifiti, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 13. Mitch Barnett, 16. Herman Ese'ese. Interchange: 20. Tex Hoy, 15. Jacob Saifiti, 12. Aidan Guerra, 17. Sione Mata'utia.
1. Corey Allan, 2. Alex Johnston, 3. Campbell Graham, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Jaxon Paulo, 6. Cody Walker, 7. Adam Reynolds (c), 8. Tevita Tatola, 9. Damien Cook, 10. Thomas Burgess, 15. Liam Knight, 12. Bayley Sironen, 13. Cameron Murray. Interchange: 14. Mark Nicholls, 15. Jaydn Su'a, 16. Jed Cartwright, 17. Keaon Koloamatangi.
BREAKING THE SEVEN YEAR DROUGHT
For the first time in seven years the Knights are back in the finals.
Finishing the regular season in seventh position with 11 wins and a draw, the Knights will be aware of the stakes throughout October with no second chances on offer should they lose.
Coming up against the Rabbitohs in an Elimination Final on Sunday afternoon, the Knights will be hoping to replicate their 20-18 victory when the two sides met earlier in the season at Bankwest Stadium.
THE PROMISED LAND
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Enduring a number of tough seasons early on in their NRL careers, forwards Daniel Saifiti, Jacob Saifiti, Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Mitchell Barnett will experience the promised land of finals football for the first time.
Among a host of rookies thrown in the deep end during the club’s rebuilding period, the quartet have overcome the hardship of back-to-back wooden spoons to become established first graders with the Knights.
Other players set to feature in finals football for the first time are Enari Tuala, Bradman Best, Mason Lino, Chris Randall and Sione Mata’utia.
A TALE OF TWO COACHES
When the Knights last featured in finals football, seven-time premiership winner Wayne Bennett was at the helm as coach.
On Sunday afternoon, Newcastle coach Adam O’Brien will experience his first finals match against Bennett - the most experienced coach in the league.
Doing a wonderful job to take the Knights to the finals in his first season with the club, O’Brien will be drawing upon the lessons learned as an assistant under Craig Bellamy and Trent Robinson to guide the side into the second week of the play-offs.
The winner of this clash will have another do-or-die clash in week two, up against the loser of Parramatta v Melbourne.
Watch! Finals footy... it’s been seven years
KNIGHTS STAT ATTACK
The Knights have won two out of three finals matches played at ANZ Stadium.
Sione Mata’utia, making his 124th appearance for the club, will end the record for most appearances for Newcastle without playing finals football.
RABBITOHS STAT ATTACK
The Rabbitohs have never played the Knights in finals football.
Liam Knight will play his 50th NRL game on Sunday.
Adam Reynolds, Alex Johnston and Tom Burgess are the only remaining players from the South Sydney team that won the 2014 premiership.
FINALS STAT ATTACK
The Knights have won 13 out of 27 finals matches.
Andrew Johns and Bill Peden have appeared in the most finals matches for Newcastle (17).
Robbie O’Davis and Timana Tahu have scored the most tries in finals matches for Newcastle (6).
The winner of the Elimination Final between Newcastle and South Sydney will play the loser of the Qualifying Final between Melbourne and Parramatta next week.
ANZ Stadium have reduced the parking cost across all car parks to $18 for the event on Sunday.
Patrons will be able to access the discounted rate if they visit the website and select parking for Sunday 4th October before 11.59pm on Saturday 3rd October.
The day rate will remain the same for any parking booked on the day ($6 per hour up to $30 for patrons that arrive with pre-booking)
Knights Merchandise will be available at the game on Sunday in the Merchandise outlets behind Bays 104 and 127.
With stadium capacities increasing, fans are encouraged to consider all the available travel options ahead of time as public transport continues to operate at a reduced capacity to maintain physical distancing across the network.
Traffic may be heavier than usual on roads approaching Olympic Park and local roads within the precinct will be closed for the game so allow extra travel time. Visit livetraffic.com for details and real-time traffic conditions.
Travel on trains is covered by your ticket to the game, including Sydney Trains, Sydney Metro and Light rail services.
The closest train station to ANZ Stadium is Olympic Park.
Fans travelling from Newcastle are reminded that buses are replacing trains on the Central Coast & Newcastle Line between Newcastle Interchange and Central and on the Hunter Line between Scone, Dungog and Newcastle for weekend trackwork. Rail replacement buses will run regularly to Central where you can change for a train to Olympic Park. Additional express coaches to Central will run from key stations including Newcastle, Broadmeadow, Morisset, Wyong and Gosford to help fans get to and from the game.
Remember to practise physical distancing when on-board transport services and to look for the ‘green dots’ to find the safest places to sit or stand.
Visit transportnsw.info for details on transport services and more information on COVID-19 travel advice.
Date: Sunday, October 4
Location: ANZ Stadium
NRL kick-off: 4.05pm