Wayne Bennett has early season injury headaches at Newcastle. Image courtesy of couriermail.com.au/ Photo: Liam Driver
Newcastle Knights v Canberra Raiders
Sunday, March 16 – 5.35pm (AEST)
Things you need to know:
The Knights have named both Kurt Gidley and Tyrone Roberts despite the pair suffering nasty head knocks in the loss to Penrith last weekend. They will need to pass cognitive tests in the lead-up to take their places. If fit, Gidley will play at fullback to cover for a hamstring injury to regular number 1 Darius Boyd. Travis Waddell is the new man in the hooker's role. Despite a first-up loss to North Queensland, Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has stuck with the same squad of 17. Forwards David Shillington (ribs) and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (ankle) both miss out again but could return from injury as early as next weekend.
Reason to watch:
The action in the coaches boxes promises to be just as intriguing as what happens on the field. Knights boss Wayne Bennett and Raiders coach Ricky Stuart are two of the most passionate and experienced clipboarder's in the NRL and won't like the fact their side's haven't opened their account for the season yet. Which coach will be the one to smile first?
Reason to turn away:
Both these side's led at half-time in their respective matches last weekend before falling off terribly after the break. If that trend continues it could mean both sides' dish up some ordinary fare in the second half.
"We are just putting it (the Panthers loss) behind us. Obviously it's not the way you want to start the season, but you also don't want to remember those things either. So we are just moving forward. We've just got to keep doing what we're doing. We've been training all pre-season together, so we know what we want to accomplish and what we have to do, but we've just got to execute." – Knights centre Dane Gagai
Much will depend on the fitness of Gidley and Roberts. With Jarrod Mullen and Boyd already sidelined, the Knight can't afford to lose the other two players in the vital 'spine' of their side. If they play you would lean towards the home side, if not Canberra could give coach Ricky Stuart his first win as boss of the Green Machine. We'll back the pair to play so it's Knights by 8.
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