Ins: Michael Dobson (Hull KR), Clint Newton (Panthers).
Outs: Danny Buderus (Retired), Neville Costigan (Hull KR), Craig Gower (Retired), Siuatonga Likiliki (Titans), Peter Mata’utia (Dragons), Kevin Naiqama (Panthers).
2013 Record – 7th, 29 points (12 wins, 11 losses, 1 draw).
Attack: 6th, 22.00 ppg
Defence: 5th, 17.58 ppg
Marquee Man: Jarrod Mullen – With a sublime kicking game and arguably the best left to right pass in the game, the talented five eighth continues to develop his game under super coach Wayne Bennett.
Under the Spotlight: Kurt Gidley – A favourite son of Novocastrians, there is no denying Gidley’s importance to the team with his versatility and leadership. Unfortunately the last few seasons have been injury plagued, and at 31 years of age his best days may well be behind him.
Draw Analysis: Tough start with 4 of first 6 games away and trips to Melbourne, Townsville and Canberra. Do have a good finish with 4 of last 5 games at home, with the last 4 games against bottom 8 sides from last year.
The Knights had a great finish to 2013 to get to within one game of a grand final where they were knocked out by the eventual winners.
Criticised as being a ‘Retirement Home’ of sorts, coach Wayne Bennett has managed to blend a mix of experience and youth into a solid, no nonsense side capable of mixing it with the very best.
The retirement of veterans Buderus and Gower leave somewhat of a hole in the dummy half position, so it will be imperative to the Knights chances to get skipper Kurt Gidley healthy and back on the field in order to replicate last season’s performance.
Newcastle look a solid all round team and appear well placed to Make the Top 8 at $1.87 with Sportingbet