The nib Newcastle Knights will collide with the North Queensland Cowboys in a crucial Round 16 encounter and newest recruit, Jake Clifford, is raring to go ahead of his impending clash with some familiar faces.
The 23-year-old arrived from North Queensland only a month ago after signing a two year deal with the Club.
Clifford made the immediate mid-season switch to Newcastle’s shores with former Brisbane Broncos half Tom Dearden heading to Cowboy country.
The half says he’s counting down the days to his first game against the former club.
“I’m excited for the challenge to try to get one over on them,” Clifford said.
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“They’ve just come off a loss, so they’ll be coming down here to prove a point.
“I know all the boys there and how they play. (But) they’ve got a new combination which could be a whole completely different playing style."
Clifford showcased his ability with boot to ball in the Knights much-needed victory over the Warriors.
Two spiralling bombs led to points for the red and blue including the Brodie Jones match-winner with four minutes to play.
The former Cowboy also combined with four forced drop-outs to mount pressure on the Warriors defence.
Heading into a vital stretch of fixtures, Clifford says the team is prepared to put together a positive run of games.
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“If we can get another win this weekend and go into a bye, then hopefully we can get some troops back and be close to a full-strength team,” Clifford said.
“Every win is crucial because it’s so tight.”
The team have also been made to head back into a bubble amidst Level 4 COVID protocols for the NRL squad.
To ensure public safety and the continuation of the competition, the NRL announced on Monday the return to the protocols.
Clifford says the team is well prepared due to their experience from last season.
“It’s happened pretty quickly,” Clifford said.
“Overnight, we got a message saying we were going back into lockdown.
“We went through a whole year with it all and we know how to handle it.
“We’ve got things in place which make our jobs easier.
“Got to freshen up mentally (last week) and get ready to attack this next nine-week period we have coming up.
“The boys trained well, everyone is looking refreshed and ready to go this weekend.”