NRL Preview: Round 1

NRL Preview: Round 1

The new season is upon us! The Knights kick off 2016 on the Gold Coast after a strong pre-season. It will be an intriguing encounter for red and blue fans, as coach Nathan Brown has made it clear that he wants the squad to adapt to his methods from the get-go.

GOLD COAST TITANS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS

Date: Sunday March 6
Gates open: 3.05pm
Kick-off: 5.30pm
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium
Broadcast: Fox Sports

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Played: 14
Knights: 9
Titans: 5

SQUADS

Newcastle

1. Jaelen Feeney, 2. Chanel Mata’utia, 3. Dane Gagai, 4. Pat Mata’utia, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Jarrod Mullen, 7. Trent Hodkinson (c), 8. Kade Snowden, 9. Tyler Randell, 10. Sam Mataora, 11. Jacob Saifiti, 12. Robbie Rochow, 13. Jeremy Smith (c). Interchange: 14. David Bhana, 15. Korbin Sims, 17. Pauli Pauli, 18. Daniel Saifiti. Extended bench: 16. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 19. Nathan Ross.

Gold Coast

1. William Zillman (c), 2. David Mead, 3. Josh Hoffman, 4. Nathan Davis, 5. Anthony Don, 6. Tyrone Roberts, 7. Ashley Taylor, 8. David Shillington, 9. Nathan Friend (c), 10. Agnatius Paasi, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Chris McQueen, 13. Greg Bird. Interchange: 14. Eddy Pettybourne, 15. Ryan James, 16. Leivaha Pulu, 17. Daniel Mortimer, 18. Lachlan Burr, 19. Leva Li.

TALKING POINTS

The debutants

While the Titans have named seven players who will play for the club for the first time, the Knights have called up five players who will be playing first grade for the first time.

The Saifiti twins, Pat Mata’utia, Jaelen Feeney and David Bhana have all shown enough during the pre-season for Brown to give them the nod.

“I’m finally accomplishing a lifetime goal,” a passionate Feeney told Knights TV earlier in the week.

“It makes it even better that I get to debut with four other boys who have worked so hard during the pre-season as well and who are now being rewarded.”

The joint-captains

While the Knights announced three captains for this season, only two of them will be playing this week due to Tariq Sim’s suspension.

It will be interesting to see how Trent Hodkinson and Jeremy Smith tackle the responsibility, as well as how they share duties.

Hodkinson will surely bring his natural composure and confidence to the side, while Smith will hope to lead by example from the front with his no-nonsense style of play.

“Jeremy has been around for some time and has been under some great systems and great coaches,” Brown said yesterday.

“He understands what’s required not only to win, but how to win.”

The wrecking ball on the bench

Pauli Pauli was an exciting off-season acquisition for red and blue fans and the 120 kilogram forward will be eager to start off strongly at his new club.

Whether he plays as a prop or in the second row, he is capable of punching holes through the Titans’ defence and creating space for his halves.

“I’ve settled in pretty well and the boys have made me feel comfortable. It’s been very positive to see the other guys try to help me fit in,” Pauli told Knights TV last week.

The new halves pairing

Jarrod Mullen and Trent Hodkinson will be playing their first game together on Sunday evening.

The skillsets of the two halves compliment each other nicely, and it will be interesting to see how they steer the side around at Cbus Stadium.

“Last year Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford (at the Broncos) hadn’t played together and I didn’t see too many people at the end of the year worried about their combination,” Brown said in a press conference on Tuesday.

THE FINAL SAY

“I was confident I would make my debut sometime this year, but I would never have dreamed it would be in round one,” debutant David Bhana told Knights TV on Monday.

“I just have to do my job right in defence… and get our principles right and hopefully I’ll go well.” 

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