With all 2020 pre-season drawing near, a lot of questions are being asked about the Newcastle Knights and whether or not they can crack the eight. Don’t write them off yet.
Many say the Knights took a big gamble signing Adam O’Brien – I’m 50/50 here. He may have no first grade coaching experience, but he came from the two best systems in the game with a wealth of knowledge from arguably the two best coaches of the modern age. Here are a few things to think about.
An unproven first grade coach is challenged to push the Knights into the finals. What I like about it is he chose to take it on, whereas he could have easily said no. The knowledge he gained can pay off for the Knights and whether or not it does next year, it will given due time. It wouldn’t be the first time Knights gambled big time – they hired Nathan Brown to rebuild the club and history tells that tale.
Leadership is one of the most important things needed to any team of any sport. Mitchell Pearce is the captain, and you have other leaders such as David Klemmer, Tim Glasby, Mitchell Barnett, Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Sione Mata’utia. As leaders, they need to lay the law with the players for both their on and off field behaviours.
The players need to put pride and hard work into the effort they show on the field – if they lose any games, I’d prefer they take it down the wire. We suffered record losses to the Titans, Roosters, Tigers and Panthers. We shot ourselves in the foot too many times against the Titans, but at least we returned serve on Old Boys Day.
This is to my fellow Knights fans – give O’Brien a chance to prove himself. He’s got three years to give us the finals berth we have been missing since 2013. I know it’s hard to be patient but that’s what we have to be. I don’t know how it will go next year but the action of our players will tell the story. Let’s just do what we always do and show up in massive numbers to cheer our team on.
Having ten different spines sadly was unfortunate. So that means that ten different combinations had to be made and with so much adjustments, no wonder why our season turned sour. From winning seven of our first 12 – including a six match winning streak – to winning just three of our last 12 is pathetic. That loss to the Tigers in which it was finals or bust really was a shocker – it was like our players were physically there but mentally on the bus, and the same goes for our loss to Penrith two weeks later.
Next year, what I can predict is a different story to this year. With Jayden Brailey coming to Newcastle, we can consistently have a dummy half. The five-eighth spot is a bit of a battle and I know some are talking about those to hire, but why? We have decent players who can own that spot. Connor Watson with his top running and passing game, Kurt Mann with arguably the best torpedo in the game and gun junior Phoenix Crossland with his good kicking game – plus the speed to outrun Road Runner – are all potential options.
The early stages of next season will be important, but the final stages when the finals draws closer are when the stage is set. Remember – you don’t win premierships in May.