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Knights to back up after test match - Tuesday, July 09, 2002
Knights' coach, Michael Hagan, is expecting a tough encounter with the Canberra Raiders this Sunday with four players being asked to back up from Friday's Test Match against the British Lions.
He has named a virtually unchanged line-up for the game in the nation's capital. The exception is the inclusion of Julian Bailey on the interchange bench at the expense of Clinton O'Brien as part of the team's rotation policy. O'Brien has been named at 18 and will come into the team if any of the Kangaroos fail to back up from the Test match.
The Novocastrians, sitting outright second, need to continue on their winning way to keep the in-form Bulldogs in their sights.
Canterbury has strung together a remarkable 13-game winning streak to sit alone at the top of the table and the Knights will be looking for victories over the Raiders and Panthers before the two top teams clash at EnergyAustralia Stadium on 28 July.
The Knights are expecting a torrid battle this Sunday despite Canberra's indifferent form. The A.C.T. has not been a happy venue for the Knights during their fifteen-year history. Only once has the team beaten the Raiders during that time - a narrow two-point victory in 2001.
Michael Hagan concedes that they will have their work cut out for them.
"We have been hit harder than anyone regarding rep commitments over the last two months, with the probable exception of Brisbane, and it has certainly taken its toll on our players," he said earlier today.
"Our two byes have been chewed up and with nine rounds still to complete we are under no illusions as to how tough it will be between here and the end of the season."
"I'd love to see our four Australian players back up from the Test match this weekend, but it's not something I'm counting on."
"I'd prefer to see them taking the field feeling healthy and ready to play, particularly with a number of big games coming up over the next month or so."