Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
The Knights remain relatively injury free entering into the second round of the premiership, despite the loss of former representative fullback Robbie O?Davis and regular winger Anthony Quinn.
O?Davis lasted just 20 minutes of his side?s 20-14 win against the Penrith Panthers on Friday, sustaining a leg injury that was to keep him out of action for up to six weeks.
But Knights? coach Michael Hagan said that assessments during the week indicated O?Davis? injury was ?not as bad as first thought?.
David Seage, after an impressive display as stand-in fullback on Friday night, will add to his sole first grade match, lining up as starting fullback.
Michael Ennis moves onto the bench to fill the gap left by Seage.
Meanwhile, 21-year-old winger Anthony Quinn is out for three weeks after sustaining an eight-centimetre tear to his quadriceps while moving furniture on Thursday.
Former Raymond Terrace back George Carmont makes his first-grade debut, replacing Quinn on the left wing.
The 25-year-old Carmont played in the World Sevens tournament earlier this year, but is yet to play in a premiership match.
It had been feared seven days ago that neither would play in the Knights? opening tussle with the defending premiers Penrith.
Both manage to get through the game without further complications to their injuries, and will play on Sunday.
"I'll just play week in week out and see what happens," Kennedy said.
"It's not really a drama at the moment.?
After an opening-round bye, Melbourne will be out to start their season strongly with a win at home.
Melbourne?s lead-up has been hampered by the retirement of star fullback Robbie Ross during the week.
The former Origin fullback had spent recent seasons trying to overcome ongoing back problems that saw him play just five matches last year.
The Storm have also had to deal with the resignation of long-time club boss John Ribot, and continued investigations into an alleged assault claim against two of the club?s players.
Of more immediate concern, star halfback Matt Orford is still no certainty of playing on Sunday, despite being cleared of a blood clot in his brain.
Orford trained for an hour yesterday, but his coach, Craig Bellamy, said he wouldn?t be rushed back in.
"Matt is still on medication and if he remains on it at the weekend, he won't be playing," Bellamy told the Sydney Morning Herald. Knights coach Michael Hagan said on Tuesday that his side had been working on ways of shutting Orford down.
"He's pretty important for them and reading between the lines I give him every chance to play," he said on Tuesday.
"We'll do some homework on him. He and Scott Hill are very dangerous and Cameron Smith at hooker - they have some pretty smart operators in their team."
Backrower Ben Kennedy said he expected the match against the Storm to be ?as hard a road trip as there is in the competition?.
?They?re fit and strong and as was shown by their performances last year, they can translate that into on-fields results,? Kennedy said.
?With one game under our belt, we?re reasonably happy with how we?re travelling, but it can very quickly turn around if we don?t show up with a similar attitude in Melbourne.?