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Knights forward Alex McKinnon sounds every bit the Novocastrian these days, being well-versed on the history with traditional adversaries Manly.  

"It's always played in rivalry round. We played them in '97 Grand Final, and we played them in a trial game in our first year in 1989," McKinnon says.  

For someone who's only lived in the Hunter for a couple of years, the insight was pleasantly surprising. What else did he know? 

"That's all I've been told. I actually wasn't born then."

Oh, right. He was, however, well and truly alive when the great Andrew Johns made rugby league his personal playground. If rugby league was a religion back then, Johns would've been the Pope.   

"When I was a young kid, I remember watching Joey Johns against Brad Fittler and I was a huge fan of both of them," he says. 

"So that's always a big one for myself when we play the Roosters. And taking on the defending premiers is always big. They're a good side at the moment.

And then there's the Storm, who prepare for every game like it's their 100th grand final, but just might save a little something special for the team that knocked them out on their own home ground last September. 

"That was the first time we beat them in 10 years down there. It was a massive win for us," McKinnon says, reaching further into his pockets of Knights trivia. 

"The Storm are great team and I'm sure they'll continue to be a great team. We just turned up against them down there we nearly beat them up here (in Round 23) and we nearly beat them down there (in Round 14). We're always on our game when we play against them."

But none of the Storm, Sea Eagles or Roosters can compare to Newcastle's modern-day rivalry with McKinnon's former team, St George Illawarra, with whom the Knights have the lowest winning percentage against of all teams since the start of the NRL.  

"Obviously fans look into the whole Wayne Bennett thing when the Dragons play the Knights. We've got a lot of players go between the clubs in previous years, so that'll always be a big game," he says. 

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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