NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 17: Kalyn Ponga of the Newcastle Knights in action during the round 22 NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the North Queensland Cowboys at McDonald Jones Stadium on August 17, 2019 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

We’re going through every NRL club and examining how the shutdown of the competition due to the coronavirus crisis will affect them.

See also: Brisbane Broncos, Canberra Raiders, Canterbury BulldogsCronulla Sharks, Gold Coast Titans, Manly Sea Eagles, Melbourne Storm

Today we look at what the lockdown means for the Newcastle Knights…

Positives

There could be multiple positives such as extra fitness sessions however, the good news for the Knights is relates to back-rower Mitch Barnett. Barnett had surgery after sustaining a nerve injury in his neck against the West Tigers in their round 2 clash and could have faced up up to three months. With the NRL on hold at the moment, it could mean the break could fast track his recovery which means he could be in contention to play soon after the NRL resumes. 

Negatives

Momentum. After a blistering start by the Knights where they sit pretty in second place after scoring a combined 62 points in their first two games, a break like this could hurt them. They were outstanding against the New Zealand Warriors in round 1 and the West Tigers in round 2. 

Financial position

The Knights are currently owned by The West Group and while they have stood down a number of staff and closed six licensed venues across New South Wales, the Knights CEO Phil Gardner has assured the club is safe. 

Players

The Knights have many off-contract players at the end of the season, like Conor Watson, Aidan Guerra, Herman Ese’ese, Tauta Moga, Jacob Saifiti, Mason Lino, however, their biggest name that is attracting attention is Kalyn Ponga. 

Ponga is still contracted to the Knights until season 2021, however, he is free to talk offers to other clubs in November this year which means if the Knights want to hold onto him they better start talking to him sooner rather than later. 

Coach

The Knights are at the start of a new era as new coach Adam O’ Brien looks set to bring the glory days back to the Knights. O’Brien could be the perfect man for that to happen as he spent 11 years at the Melbourne Storm, with five of those years working alongside Craig Bellamy as an assistant. He also spent last season at the premiers Roosters as an assistant to Trent Robinson.

How they would have fared in 2020

Considering the fast start this year the Knights could be well and truly on their way to finals. Despite currently sitting 2-0, they need to be ensure they don’t replicate their slow start from last year coming out of the extended break. If the fast start is anything to go by this year, then they would be very optimistic. This team is capable of playing finals. 

Where to from here

For O’Brien’s sake and for the sake of the Knights faithful they need to keep up that momentum and get points on the board quickly when they resume.