Knights coach believes Mullen will shine - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Knights coach believes Mullen will shine

By Steve Jancetic 24/02/2010 06:12:05 PM Comments (0)

With the shadow of Andrew Johns no longer looming large, Newcastle coach Rick Stone claims Knights fans will finally see the best of former NSW halfback Jarrod Mullen.

Dogged by injury and the expectations that come with replacing one of the greatest players that the game has ever been, Mullen has struggled to live up to the hype which saw him thrust into a NSW jumper as a 20-year-old.

Still just 22 years of age, Mullen, Stone believes the local junior is finally ready to make a mark as his own man.

"When Joey retired in the early stages of '07 (Mullen) had enormous responsibility for a young player," Stone told AAP.

"I think he handled it as well as most young players could but the expectations were fairly high as well.

"Now he's just starting to get a bit more comfortable with all of that and he realises now that he's been there for a while and he's learnt the processes he needs to go through - I think he's ready for a much more consistent year."

Now three years removed from the Johns era, Stone believes fans and the media are finally letting up in comparing Mullen's exploits with that of the two-time premiership winner.

"He did have some expectations as Joey's heir apparent, but there'll never be another Andrew Johns, I don't think we'll see another one of those in our lifetime, we can forget about that," Stone said.

"Jarrod being Jarrod Mullen will be a good start.

"His best traits are probably his kicking and running game and if we can get the best out of him in that area, I think he's going to be more than a handful."

The pressure on Mullen to lead from the front has only increased in the wake of Kurt Gidley's hamstring injury, which will keep the Knights skipper out for the opening months of the NRL season.

Stone said he was still undecided on who would start in the halves alongside Mullen for the round one clash against Canterbury at ANZ Stadium.

Scott Dureau and Ben Rogers will both be given the opportunity to press their case when the Knights play their final pre-season game against Penrith at Port Macquarie on Saturday night.

"Kurt gets his hands on the ball probably more than most fullbacks," Stone said.

"I think Jarrod and whoever partners him in the halves will have to take on a bit more responsibility with Gids out."

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