Three battle to partner Knights' Mullen - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Three battle to partner Knights' Mullen

By Steve Jancetic 12/02/2009 05:57:34 PM Comments (0)

A three-way battle for the right to partner Jarrod Mullen in the Newcastle halves gets underway in the unlikely surrounds of St John Oval on Saturday night.

Veteran coach Brian Smith will cast an eye over a number of scrumbase combinations when the Knights play three 25-minute trials against local club sides at the suburban Newcastle venue.

With former NSW Origin half Mullen all but assured of wearing the No.6 or No.7 come round one against Gold Coast, Ben Rogers, Luke Walsh and Scott Dureau will go head-to-head over the next three weeks in a bid to run out by his side.

"We've got three trials and all of them will play some footy," Smith said.

"Hopefully a couple of them will poke their heads up and make it obvious to me.

"The 25 minutes (this weekend) isn't on its own - the following week we play Melbourne and the following week we play the Sharks plus three months of pre-season training - we'll have plenty of chances to look at it and they'll have plenty opportunities to show us what they've got."

Dureau is the front-runner heading into the new campaign having finished the 2008 season at halfback.

But it is Walsh who will get first crack at partnering Mullen with the two to run out for the first 25-minute game on Saturday night with Rogers and Dureau to play in game two.

Walsh and Dureau will then share time at halfback in the last match.

"The boys fighting it out there ... they haven't got a lot of long-term experience there," Smith said of his halves options.

"But they're all keen, they're all enthusiastic, they're all talented, and they've all got an opportunity."

Rogers will play his first game for the club following previous stints with South Sydney and St George Illawarra where he shifted between five-eighth and the backrow.

But Smith said he was keen to see what Rogers could do at pivot despite his preference to keep Mullen in the No.6 jumper rather than at halfback.

"We're looking at (Rogers) as a six - that's his main thing at the moment, it's been his first focus," Smith said.

"We'll look at him in other positions as time goes along.

"We made a decision to help him bed down one spot and have a proper crack at that first."

In all, 24 of the 32-man NRL squad will play some part in the three trials - against Central Charlestown, Maitland and South Newcastle - with only injured players not in action.

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