Uate in doubt as Denniss firms for Knights debut
The Newcastle Knights could hand relative unknown Cory Denniss his NRL debut this weekend against the Raiders with Akuila Uate in doubt with a chest injury.
Uate is set to undergo a fitness test later in the week to determine whether he'll face the Raiders, with 18-year-old Denniss training with the first grade squad in the meantime.
If given the nod Denniss will become the fourth local junior given his NRL debut by Knights coach Nathan Brown in 2016, with Uate set to join Chanel Mata'utia (knee) and Jake Mamo (ankle) on the sidelines.
Denniss didn't participate in the club's first grade pre-season – his first taste of training with the squad coming earlier this week.
The young outside back is currently ranked 12th in metres produced (292) in the Holden Cup this year.
"I haven't had a chance to watch him in the 20s so far but from what I've seen he's a real tall fella so it looks like we'll be kicking his way if he gets put on the wing there," Knights hooker Tyler Randell told NRL.com of Denniss.
"From what I've heard too he's going well in the 20s and he's another local boy so that'll be good to see another local debut for the Knights. I think he'll go well."
Denniss's potential debut comes at a time where Newcastle looks to bounce back from their 42-point shellacking in Round 2 at the hands of South Sydney.
"We have learnt a lot of things in the first fortnight of the season. Brownie has really showed us what's gone wrong with the way we have started with penalties and errors, and we know we can't be starting like that," Randell said.
"Against Souths we had like 35 per cent of possession in the first half and you just can't be competitive when you're doing things like that.
"It looks like it's going to be a wet game [against the Raiders] so there will be an even bigger emphasis on making sure we complete our sets and go set-for-set for as long as we can."
Randell – who is part of the club's leadership group – didn't shy away from the Knights' lack of experience either, noting there were plenty of lessons to be learnt this season.
"Obviously it's been well-documented that we have a young team and I think that's one thing Brownie is trying to put in place is how we start at the moment," he said.
"We have to learn to get into a game and go set for set with teams for as long as possible. That way it'll give us a lot better chance in scoring first points rather than playing catch up."