No guarantees for Knights young guns
He has anointed them as the future of the club but Newcastle coach Nathan Brown says there are no guarantees that the five players who made their NRL debuts on Sunday night will retain their positions for the clash with South Sydney on Saturday.
Jaelen Feeney, Pat Mata'utia, Jacob Saifiti, David Bhana and Daniel Saifiti represented a club record five debutants in the 30-12 loss to the Titans and while each made positive contributions there were moments when their inexperience showed.
On a horror night weather wise for even the most accomplished fullbacks Feeney struggled to get to a number of towering bombs but showed encouraging signs in attack while Mata'utia scored a try but came up with a poor defensive read on a Titans try in the second half.
The Saifiti boys did their chances of selection this week no harm with some powerful running and Bhana was industrious in a team that spent large periods of the second half on the back foot.
Brown is intent to usher in the next generation of Knights first graders and build from the ground up but stopped short of declaring their positions safe for the immediate future.
"No one's given any guarantees," Brown said post-match.
"We'll go week to week but the way some of them went today they certainly will be playing again next week and injuries can play their part and the form of guys in reserve grade as well.
"No one's been given a guarantee at all but there were some good positives there for us to move forward with and we just need to make sure we learn our lessons.
"It was a tough day at the office for any fullback with the conditions. Jaelen had some really good parts to his game and he had some parts to his game that he'll see he can do a fair bit better.
"Patty Mata'utia had some really good solid stuff but then he'll also see that the try that Anthony Don got that he could have done better.
"All of them are going to see some real positive things but they're also going to see some things where I think they can do better which is what you have to expect from younger kids."
Test representative Sione Mata'utia is the only player due to return next week but Brown indicated it would most likely be in the Intrust Super NSW Premiership with Tariq Sims still five weeks away from completing his suspension.
It will give the younger players a chance to build on their performances against the Titans and put the lessons learnt to good use against the Rabbitohs.
"We're going to go through a process. We had a lot of debutants today and we'll have more in the next seven or eight weeks but the good thing is we're putting kids who can have long-term futures for the club," said Brown.
"We're not putting players in that aren't good and they've got to understand what making a basic error does and the effect it can have when you're playing against good players.
"The key is that these young guys understand what it takes to win a game of footy and if they can keep putting the effort in and competing hard and they can improve along the way and understand the process of how you win. That will be important.
"It's not going to get any easier and we'll have some good times and some times that are tough but I've been through this a number of times before and the key is that the younger players you bring in, can they be good long term players for you and can they take the club forward? That's the key to it."