KNIGHTS coach Nathan Brown says his players have nothing to fear as they prepare for Saturday’s clash with competition leaders Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.
Brown acknowledged that the 2015 runner-ups and premiers North Queensland remain the NRL’s benchmark sides, judging by their form in the opening six rounds of the season.
But after Sunday’s 18-16 win against Wests Tigers – their first victory this year – Brown declared his troops will head north full of confidence and belief that they can spring a boilover.
“It should be a good opportunity for our blokes to go up there, play in front of a really big crowd, and enjoy the game and back themselves to do well,’’ Brown said.
“We shouldn’t go there thinking we’re going to lose. We’ve got to go there with a mindset that we can do well.
“It doesn’t mean we will, but that’s the mindset we’ve got to have. That’s the mindset that, as a club, all those younger players have to develop.
“If we compete hard, whatever else comes, comes. We can build off the back of that.’’
Even after Sunday’s breakthrough win, Newcastle’s first since Brown was appointed at the end of last season, they are certain to be at long odds to upset the Broncos. Brisbane have ruthlessly ground out five wins from their first six games of 2016.
Their only loss was by one point to Penrith in round three. In the process, they have scored 135 points and conceded 73.
The Knights, in contrast, have a draw and a win to their credit after six games, and have scored 92 points while conceding 176 – the most in the NRL.
If we compete hard, whatever else comes, comes. We can build off the back of that.Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown
Brisbane have won their past four games against Newcastle by a combined scoreline of 153 to 52 – or 38 to 13 on average.
Brown said, on early-season performances, the Cowboys and Brisbane were a class above the rest of the competition.
“If there was a grand final tomorrow, they’d be the two teams running around in it,’’ Brown said. “But like when we went to Melbourne, we’ve got to look at it as a really good challenge.
“We’ve got to go there believing we’ve got a really good shot at winning the game. We’ve got to get that mentality. We’ve got to give ourselves a chance, but obviously Brisbane are in fine form.’’
Newcastle are expected to welcome back 2014 Kangaroos representative Sione Mata’utia, who missed the win against Wests Tigers with concussion, and possibly hooker Danny Levi (back).