nib Newcastle Knights coach Adam O’Brien has named his NRL team for the season opener.
The Knights will host the Bulldogs at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday, with plenty to talk about on the new-look team list.
With Kalyn Ponga and Blake Green still sidelined following surgeries in late-2020, Tex Hoy and Kurt Mann will don the No.1 and No.6 jerseys respectively.
Daniel Saifiti will captain the team in what will be his 100th NRL game, with Jayden Brailey returning for his first game in 12 months in the No.9 jersey.
Connor Watson will start the game at lock, which means Mitch Barnett starts in the backrow alongside Tyson Frizell, who will don the red and blue for the first time.
Jacob Saifiti joins Sauaso Sue, Brodie Jones and Josh King on the bench, with the latter earning a spot in the Round 1 team for the first time in his career.
Gehamat Shibasaki will start on the wing alongside young gun Starford To'a.
Pearce drops contract bombshell
1. Tex Hoy brought to you by - Allara Learning
2. Starford To'a brought to you by - A Plus Contract
3. Enari Tuala brought to you by - M&J Chickens
4. Bradman Best brought to you by - East Coast Building and Pest
5. Gehamat Shibasaki brought to you by - East Coast Building and Pest
6. Kurt Mann brought to you by - Fast Fuel Meals
7. Mitchell Pearce brought to you by - Kelly Suzuki Cardiff
8. David Klemmer brought to you by - Mine Super
9. Jayden Brailey (c) brought to you by - Musclepharm
10. Daniel Saifiti (c) brought to you by - Greg Tapp Printing
11. Tyson Frizell brought to you by - Wellman Strata
12. Mitch Barnett brought to you by - Hunter Imaging
13. Connor Watson brought to you by - Brydens Lawyers
14. Sauaso Sue brought to you by - Taylors Outdoor Power Equipment
15. Jacob Saifiti brought to you by - NBN News
16. Josh King brought to you by - Triple M 102.9
17. Brodie Jones brought to you by - Reflections Holiday Parks
18. Hymel Hunt
19. Pasami Saulo
20. Jack Johns
21. Simi Sasagi
Date: Friday, March 12
Gates open: 3.30pm
NSW Cup: 3:45pm
NRL kick-off: 6pm