Brown knows Knights face tough road ahead
Starring down the barrel of a 62-0 flogging to the Sharks on Sunday, Knights coach Nathan Brown was under no illusions over the uphill battle his largely inexperienced side continues to face.
Brown said he knew exactly what he signed up for when he became Knights coach in September last year and that fact hasn't changed over the opening 10 weeks of the season, where he's had to utilise a whopping 31 players.
The 62-0 loss to Cronulla – Newcastle's biggest defeat at Hunter Stadium in the club's 29-season history and second-largest overall – comes hardly a month after they were comprehensively beaten 53-0 by the Broncos.
Naming seven players who are 20 years old or younger – as well as 2016 debutants Pat Mata'utia and David Bhana – the Knights came up against a rampant Sharks team that had won their past six games prior to their Hunter Stadium trip.
With the experience of Jarrod Mullen (hamstring), Trent Hodkinson (knee), Robbie Rochow (arm), Sam Mataora (hamstring), Kade Snowden (various) and James McManus (concussion) all unavailable, the gap in class was made shatteringly apparent by Brown.
"There was $3 million verse $7.5 million out there. With so many young kids on the field it's two completely different salary caps opposing one another," Brown said.
"Most things we're doing at the moment are long-term based. We have a lot of players going through a tough time and we have a few older players who are playing alongside a lot of kids.
"We had six kids who could be playing under-20s out there so it makes it tough. What I do know though is as the years go by, a lot of these young kids will get a lot of experience [from these instances].
"There's going to be tough days. I knew that before I took the job on and obviously the injuries haven't helped. The guys have shown on a number of occasions this year that we have competed better but this game wasn't a great one."
Newcastle's latest blow was no better personified than in post-game scenes of a devastated Dane Gagai sobbing into the arms of Knights co-captain Tariq Sims.
Sims said Gagai's devastation stemmed from the tough nature of the loss and personal issues the 25-year-old had to face on the morning of the game.
Sims also added that he and his teammates had to be tougher on themselves at training if they were to be any of hope of turning their season around.
"It's never easy taking a loss like that. It was a tough day. The best thing we can do is rock up to training and work on the little things that we're getting wrong week-in, week-out," Sims said.
"We need to be better and harder on each other about it. There's no easy way out of this. We have a great process in place but we're letting ourselves down."