After two strong wins to start the season, the nib Newcastle Knights next test will be to tackle the reigning premiers, the Penrith Panthers.
The match looms as an early top-of-the table clash with both teams off to 100 percent records to kick-off the 2022 campaign.
This round will also launch the inaugural NRL Multicultural Round celebrating the diverse cultural heritage of every player, participant, staff member and fan in the rugby league community.
This is your Ultimate Guide to the Newcastle Knights Round 3 clash with the Penrith Panthers.
PENRITH PANTHERS v nib NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Date: Saturday, March 26, 2022
Venue: Carrington Park, Bathurst
Match: Panthers v Knights
Round 3 -
Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan EdwardsFullback for Knights is number 19 Tex Hoy
Winger for Panthers is number 2 Charlie StainesWinger for Knights is number 2 Dominic Young
Centre for Panthers is number 3 Izack TagoCentre for Knights is number 3 Dane Gagai
Centre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen CrichtonCentre for Knights is number 4 Bradman Best
Winger for Panthers is number 5 Taylan MayWinger for Knights is number 5 Enari Tuala
Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome LuaiFive-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Jake Clifford
Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Sean O'SullivanHalfback for Knights is number 7 Adam Clune
Prop for Panthers is number 8 Matthew EisenhuthProp for Knights is number 8 Jacob Saifiti
Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai KoroisauHooker for Knights is number 9 Chris Randall
Prop for Panthers is number 16 Spencer LeniuProp for Knights is number 10 Daniel Saifiti
2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Tyson Frizell
2nd Row for Panthers is number 19 Chris Smith2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Mitchell Barnett
Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah YeoLock for Knights is number 13 Kurt Mann
Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Mitch KennyInterchange for Knights is number 14 Phoenix Crossland
Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Scott SorensenInterchange for Knights is number 15 Jirah Momoisea
Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Jaeman SalmonInterchange for Knights is number 16 Leo Thompson
Interchange for Panthers is number 18 J'maine HopgoodInterchange for Knights is number 17 Mat Croker
Replacement for Panthers is number 21 Lindsay SmithReplacement for Knights is number 18 Simi Sasagi
- Referee: Peter Gough
- Touch Judge: Drew Oultram
- Touch Judge: Nick Beashel
UPDATE: Kalyn Ponga was given every chance to play, however, the Captain has not recovered in time from a knee injury and will miss the Round 3 clash
Tex Hoy moves to fullback while Simi Sasagi and the returning Sauaso Sue remain on the extended bench.
For Penrith, the Panthers lost back-rower Liam Martin with a leg injury on Thursday while Nathan Cleary and James Fisher-Harris are being held back for another week as they recover from shoulder injuries.
TEAM LIST TUESDAY: Knights NRL Head Coach, Adam O'Brien, named his 24-man squad for Saturday afternoon's clash with the Penrith Panthers at Carrington Park, Bathurst.
Daniel Saifiti makes his return from injury in the front-row.
David Klemmer and Lachlan Fitzgibbon come out of the side with Klemmer set to have surgery on an injured knee.
Fitzgibbon will see a surgeon for a suspected MCL to determine the extent of his knee injury sustained during the win over the Tigers.
After his first win in the NRL and a strong performance off the bench, Mat Croker, retains his spot in the side while Brodie Jones is out after testing positive to COVID-19.
Sauaso Sue and Edrick Lee have been named on the extended bench.
Sue has overcome off-season shoulder surgery while Lee made his long-awaited and triumphant return to the field in Monday's NSW Cup win over the Western Suburbs Magpies.
For the Panthers, halfback Nathan Cleary has been named in the extended squad in jersey 24.
Brian To'o is out with a knee injury and his place is taken by Taylan May.
Prop James Fisher-Harris suffered muscular damage to his left shoulder against the Dragons but has been named to play and will be monitored through the week.
The Knights made it two wins from two to start the 2022 season with a 26-4 victory over the Wests Tigers last Sunday.
Backing up from a strong opening showing against the Roosters, Newcastle secured the two points in front of the Hunter faithful scoring five tries to one.
The red and blue have put in two quality defensive performances conceding only 10 points in the opening rounds and will eye their next test against the reigning premiers.
The match against the Panthers shapes as an early top-of-the-table clash with Penrith claiming maximum points from their opening two games.
Penrith held onto a four point win over the Dragons last round and previously defeated Manly in Round 1.
Round 3 of the NRL season will launch the inaugural Multicultural Round.
A themed Round where we celebrate the diverse cultural heritage of every player, participant, staff member and fan in the rugby league community.
The 2022 theme of the NRL Multicultural Round is Stronger Together.
Jake Clifford v Jarome Luai: A battle of the five-eighth's will light up Carrington Park on Saturday afternoon.
Clifford has delivered two impressive performances in the opening rounds to lead the Dally M count.
The 24-year-old has scored two tries, averaged 90 running metres and averaged 345 kicking metres while combining with halfback, Adam Clune, to lead the attack.
The Knights defence will have to contain Luai, who made his debut for NSW last year and played an influential role in the Panthers run to the Grand Final.
Luai tallied 19 try-assists in 2021 and scored one and set up another so far this season.
The Knights will look to end a four-year streak having gone without a victory over the Panthers since 2018.
Newcastle slightly lead the head-to-head record between the two Club's with 24 wins to the Panthers 23, while the two teams have played out 4 draws - the most out of any opponent in the Knights history.
The right edge for the Knights has been electric in the opening rounds with Dane Gagai leading the NRL stats in tackle breaks (17) while Dom Young leads in line-breaks (3).
Penrith fullback, Dylan Edwards, leads the NRL in run metres with 508 from the first two rounds.
Including last season, the Panthers have won their last five games.