Joey skips in to help pressured Knights - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Joey skips in to help pressured Knights

By Todd Balym 03/09/2009 06:25:33 PM Comments (0)

It was the sight all Newcastle fans wanted to see - if only the great man could actually pull on the jersey.

Legendary halfback Andrew Johns returned to training with the Knights on Thursday, providing advice for the new halves combination of Jarrod Mullen and Scott Dureau ahead of Sunday's finals playoff with Penrith at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

It is not unusual for Johns to attend Newcastle training, but his presence was even more valuable this week given Dureau has been rushed into the side following a three-week suspension to five-eighth Ben Rogers.

Dureau and Mullen are far from strangers, starting four games together this year for three wins, but Dureau is back for his first NRL game since tearing his quad six weeks ago against Manly.

It's been three months since they last played together but Newcastle coach Rick Stone was happy with how the duo clicked at training on Thursday.

Stone said Johns was also pleased with their work and the coach was appreciative the former premiership-winning captain made the trek from Sydney ahead of the club's crucial game.

"He probably had a watchful eye, he did not have a massive input in the session," said Stone.

"He does a bit of kicking and just runs a critical eye over our attack in particular and just throws up some different ideas we may not have thought of ourselves.

"He liked what he saw, he liked the way Dureau took control of the team."

Stone was confident Dureau would easily slide back into the team, but believes Mullen needs to lift with him if they're to beat the Panthers and secure a place in the finals.

"We don't have a lot of time this week but I think Dureau is the right man for the job absolutely," said Stone.

"I don't think anyone in the NRL would have a better back up option than Dureau at this point of time in the season.

"There's no doubt Mullo needs to play better than he did last weekend, he realises that and has got to respond a bit in that area."

Stone is hopeful a strong home crowd will also boost his side this Sunday, as well as the former players who have made an annual tradition of having a reunion at the final home game of the year.

"We have to honour their legacy but it will be best to honour their legacy by winning," said Stone of the `old boys' reunion.

"It's fair to say it is (a grand final for us). To be playing one of these at home is important for us.

"There's a bit of pressure on Penrith playing away from home.

"Everyone's record in the NRL is not too flash away from home.

"We have to stay relaxed and not let the enormity of the day get to us."

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