New­cas­tle Knights

2016 fin­ish: Wooden spoon

Rugby League Week - - Nsw Cup -

The coach says: New coach Si­mon Wool­ford brings a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence to the Hunter and he’s con­fi­dent he’ll be able to turn the Knights around. “Our full-time squad is quite big this year, so I think the prepa­ra­tion will be a lit­tle bit bet­ter and I think our team in the In­trust Super Cup will cer­tainly see the ben­e­fit of that,” Wool­ford says. “We can see gen­eral im­prove­ment in the squad com­pared to way back in Novem­ber when we started. So we cer­tainly ex­pect to im­prove on our re­sults. My job is to get guys ready for first grade. So keep­ing the guys on the right track, putting into prac­tice what we’ve done all sea­son, and giv­ing them ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to progress to NRL level.”

Player to watch: On pre-sea­son form alone, Wool­ford has ear­marked Sam Stone as a kid who is go­ing places. “I’d ex­pect him to be re­warded with some game time with us,” he says. “He was prob­a­bly marked for an­other sea­son in the un­der-20s but I think he’ll prob­a­bly get an op­por­tu­nity with me and we’ll see how he goes. In Novem­ber he was a quiet, shy sort of kid, but he’s re­ally blos­somed. He’s a tall, rangy, edge back-rower and as I said, he’s done ev­ery­thing right at the mo­ment, he’s head­ing in the right di­rec­tion. Over the next cou­ple of years as he fills out I’d ex­pect him to develop into a re­ally good back-rower at the top level.”

STONE-COLD TAL­ENT Coach Si­mon Wool­ford says Sam Stone is on track to break into the NRL even­tu­ally. KEY GAINS: Tom Hughes, Chris Adams, Ja­cob Ga­gan KEY LOSSES: Akuila Uate

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