Club news: Manly, Knights & Broncos

Manly and Newcastle open round 17 of the NRL tonight with both clubs desperate for a win to stay on track for a finals berth. The Knights have lost four games in a row to slump from first to sixth on the NRL ladder, while the Sea Eagles are seventh after back-to-back losses.

Newcastle will be without key NSW Origin duo Danny Buderus and Steve Simpson, as well as injured five-eighth Kurt Gidley, while Manly will miss Blues backrower Steve Menzies. Newcastle captain Andrew Johns has paid one of the highest compliments to Sea Eagles skipper Ben Kennedy ahead of the match, saying his former Knights teammate's passion for the game continues to be a great source of motivation.

The Knights have won just once against Manly in 10 meetings at Brookvale Oval, and that was eight years ago.

Broncos interchange forward Ben Hannant will make a surprise return from injury in Sunday's NRL clash against Cronulla at Suncorp Stadium. Hannant wasn't expected to play until next weekend following knee surgery but a speedy recovery has seen Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett add the bustling youngster to his depleted outfit.

The Broncos are missing five regulars due to State of Origin duty while another five are sidelined through injury.