Coach Nathan Brown saw plenty of promising signs emerge in the Newcastle Knights’ match against the Parramatta Eels on Monday.
“There was a lot more good yesterday than bad,” he told the media on Tuesday.
“After the game we were disappointed. They did put a lot of effort into the game.
“Seeing the performance of some of our younger forwards was very promising.”
It’s been a tough run for the Knights on the injury front, but it’s a scenario Brown has experienced before in his coaching career.
The absence of injured players has cleared the stage for developing players to gain experience in the NRL, something the coach foresees will strengthen the Club in the long run.
“I have been through this before and know that as a Club, we can go a lot further forward by doing what we are doing. But sometimes you have a few mishaps along the way,” he said.
“In my first year at St Helens (English Super League), we had 16 debutants and a very similar injury run.
“With injuries there is definitely an area that is bad luck, but there’s also people adapting to the pace of the game and tackle technique and selection.
“Any player you bring in you’d like them to handle first grade.
“We have areas where we are working hard and last night we saw a lot of improvements in our defence."
Once again 20-year-old Daniel Saifiti and 21-year-old Josh King contributed quality performances up front.
“You want to put people on the field you know what they are going to give you at worst,” he said.
“It’s a good learning curve for them."
King brought impressive energy to the starting lineup with Saifiti adding noticeable impact off the bench.
“I think starting is a lot harder than coming off the bench but Daniel’s last two bench games have been very good against some good players,” Brown said.
“I think we are confident they are going to be good players for the Club long term.
“We are comfortable both players are going to play a part in our future.
“How good they get will be determined by hard they prepare and train and the sacrifices they make and hopefully a little bit of luck along the way.”
The young guns weren’t the only ones to capture Brown’s attention on Monday night.
“Trent Hodkinson, I thought his first half was the best half of footy he’s had since being at the Club,” he said of the experienced halfback.
“As the effort was, I think everyone should be proud of what they did last night because Parramatta is quite a strong side.”
In other news, with Jaelen Feeney is in doubt after injuring his ankle, replacing him in the halves will challenge the Knights’ depth in Round 14.
“Different guys are at different stages of their rehab,” he said.
“We are hopeful of getting some troops back soon, but whether this week is too short or not, I’m not quite sure yet.
“I don’t think Jaelen will play yet and what we will do there, we will just have to wait and see.”
Korbin Sims played at lock on Monday night to fill the shoes of injured joint-captain Jeremy Smith.
Despite Sims emerging from the game with a charge from the match review panel that will see him ruled out of Saturday’s game, Brown was pleased with the forward’s overall performance.
“I though it was Korbin’s best game since I’ve been at the Club which is a pleasing thing,” Brown added.
The Knights face a short week of preparation before heading North to Townville to take on the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday night.