The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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A string of losses in recent weeks has done little to stop Knights? Coach David Fairleigh from remaining positive about the club?s Premier League campaign, despite the club?s decision not to renew Fairleigh?s contract beyond this season.
After initial wins against the Raiders and Bulldogs, the Knights have slumped to win just 1 of their past 7 matches and are precariously placed in 11th spot on the competition ladder, with their season hanging by a thread.
Fairleigh remains upbeat however and is confident that if his side can squeeze into the top eight, anything is possible.
?We?re capable of anything. We?ve got a combination of men and kids in the squad, the kids need to stand up and make the step up to compete in the tough Premier League competition.? Fairleigh told League Unlimited.
Fairleigh is confident of a form reversal, but stressed that constant changes to combinations as a result of State of Origin and NRL call ups, provided problems with continuity and was partly responsible for the inconsistency of his side this season. However, Fairleigh was adamant that the 2 points each week don?t count for everything and that developing the players is always his number one priority.
?Different (positional) combinations each week makes it tough. We?ve concentrated on looking at the bigger picture though, and to me, yeah, the two points are important, but the development and improvement of the players is the most important thing. I?m extremely happy with the improvement of the players and we are reaching goals we set at the start of the season.? Fairleigh said.
Off contract at the end of the season, Fairleigh was informed by the club last week that his services would not be required beyond next season, but denied that his mid-season sacking would affect the teams on-field performance.
?I don?t think it will affect us. I got the tip off a bit over a month ago that I would not be here next season. So I knew it was coming, which helped prepare me for it.? Fairleigh said.
Fairleigh was confident that the future of the Knights is ok, giving big wraps to under 19 NSW representative, Luke Walsh and passionate back rower, Matt ?Thursty? Thurston.
?There is a lot of potential in the squad. Luke Walsh is going well, but it will take time for him to develop,?
?Matt Thurston has been tremendous! He gave me a call and basically just asked for an opportunity and a chance to train with us during the pre-season. He has been so good and very consistent all year.? said Fairleigh.
The Knights have not won the Premier League competition since ?95 and recent weeks have not shown any indication of an end to the decade long Premiership drought. However, sending out respected coach David Fairleigh on a high, may just provide the incentive needed for the Knights to fire and bag their first Premier League title of the new millennium.