Alas, Smith and Jones on same page - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Alas, Smith and Jones on same page

By David Beniuk 11/04/2009 12:23:28 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle coach Brian Smith is predicting the Warriors could mirror the Knights' own tactics and inject playmaker Stacey Jones from the bench in the NRL clash at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday.

Smith has his own ace up his sleeve - or, at least, on his bench - in former NSW half Jarrod Mullen, who made an early return from a rib injury as an interchange player in last week's win over Manly.

Jones began 2009 on the bench behind Nathan Fien and, although he has been named in the No.7 jersey, Smith can see the Kiwi legend sitting out the softening-up period.

"I won't be surprised if Stacey Jones starts off the bench this week and comes on a little bit later," Smith said.

"Like us they've got quite a bit of flexibility about what they can do in those positions."

Smith can see more than one parallel between his side's start to the season and the Warriors' after the Aucklanders went close against South Sydney last weekend.

"They actually looked like a team that were really throwing a lot of questions, even in the last five or 10 minutes, they were very unlucky to lose that game against the Rabbits," he said.

"They only needed one or two things to go their way and they'd have snaffled the points in that game and, like us, they've had some of their key personnel missing."

Some of the Knights' key men could be back though, with backrower Cory Paterson (ankle) a certainty and back Wes Naiqama (knee) an outside chance of replacing winger Akuila Uate (hamstring).

Naiqama played his first game in more than four months on Thursday night for Newcastle club side Nelson Bay, but Keith Lulia remains the more likely replacement.

The Warriors will be missing a host of big names, including Steve Price (throat), Brent Tate (knee) and Lance Hohaia (knee).

Smith said his side's two gutsy wins, over Cronulla and Manly, had provided the blueprint for what was needed to beat the Warriors.

"I'd like to think that we'll draw some confidence out of the first four games, and some learning as well," he said.

"There were bits of games that we haven't done very well in and it's cost us victories but when we did get it right in both the Sharks and the Eagles games when we played really strongly in the last 20 minutes and how we got to have the energy to play like that is the key.

"I think we controlled the ball a bit better last week, we started defending as units rather than finding guys isolated and trying to do it on their own and I think that's the key for this game."

Paterson said last year's last gasp 18-16 loss in Newcastle was still on the minds of the Knights.

"We didn't forget last year when we played them here and they beat us on the bell so there's still some motivation there," he said.

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