Full Time
3:00pm Sat March 14, 2020
Round 1 - McDonald Jones Stadium, New Lambton / Awabakal - Crowd: 10239

Round 1: Knights v Warriors preview

Two sides that underperformed badly in 2020, both the Newcastle Knights and New Zealand Warriors will be looking to start the new season with a big victory.

Under the control of new coach Adam O'Brien, the Knights are looking for further improvement after a long period of disappointment where they have struggled and stagnated in their rebuilding process. They will be looking to use Round 1 as a catalyst to make the finals for the first time since 2013.

Newcastle will start their season at home for the third season in a row and will be looking to replicate their opening round success of recent years, after beating Manly in 2018 and Cronulla in 2019. The Novocastrians have had also played the Warriors twice in the past few seasons with the two sides having taken a victory each in each of those years.

The Knights' side sees the additions of new recruits Gehamat Shibasaki and Jayden Brailey both named to start after both performing for their new club during the pre-season trial matches.

The Warriors looked to be making progress in becoming a consistent side toward the end of last decade, but 2019 was a regressive step for the Auckland-based side who stumbled to a 13th-place finish last year.

The prospect of starting the season outside of New Zealand is not a worry for the visitors this weekend, who have started their season in Australia in most of their seasons of late, bar 2017 & 2019. Round 1 for the Warriors has been a mixed affair with a combination of heavy losses and big wins, the latter including last years 40-6 thrashing of the Bulldogs.

The Warriors have kept the bulk of their squad the same with the only new face in the starting line-up being ex-Panthers hooker Wayde Egan who starts in the number 9 jersey. If unchanged on matchday, Melbourne born Jamayne Taunoa-Brown & Eliesa Katoa are set to make their debuts.

Last meeting: Round 16 2019 - Knights 20 Warriors 24

Who to watch: Being described as one of the best players in the game, Kalyn Ponga has left many fans wondering where this level of play to be described with that moniker. Ponga, has been good without being fantastic and if the Knights want to get around a big Warriors side then Ponga will be needed by Newcastle to star both on Saturday and throughout the season.

The Warriors have always had issues in the halves but the experience of Blake Green is going to be vital. The question marks are there whether the 33-year-old is still at the best and whether he can be the attacking spark that the men from Auckland need especially with their inconsistency.

The favourite: The Knights at home are the favourites with what is considered to be the stronger line-up and better form in Newcastle.

My tip: The Knights need to perform at home if they want to show that they have improved at all for new coach Adam O'Brien. On paper, they have the stronger line-up although both sides are not exactly the strongest sides in the competition. Knights by 6.

Newcastle Knights Form Guide

Yet to play this season

Newcastle Knights Upcoming Games

Warriors Form Guide

Yet to play this season