Mata'utia, Kenny-Dowall ready to step in Moga's absence
Newcastle Knights outside backs Sione Mata'utia and Shaun Kenny Dowall say there are ready to fill the vacant left centre role at the club following a heartbreaking knee injury for recruit Tautau Moga.
Moga, who joined the club from the Brisbane Broncos in the off season, is facing his fourth knee reconstruction after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in Sunday's loss to the St George Illawarra Dragons.
Fellow centre Sione Mata'utia said the injury, which happened early in the game, shook up the players and admitted it did have an affect on the team's structure for the rest of the match.
"I really don't want to think about it because he's a really close mate of mine," Mata'utia said.
"It was tough to see him in the shed after the game, and I found it hard to keep my emotions together.
"To see your mate train so hard in the pre-season, it's just so sad.
"I will be with him throughout the journey of his recovery, and I am sure he will be back."
Moga suffered the injury to his left knee while he was crossing for the opening try of the game after just four minutes, which is likely to require major surgery and a six-month rehabilitation process.
He is no stranger to the operation, having already had three reconstructions on his right knee.
Winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall added that it was ironic that the team had only just praised his recovery efforts, at a group session the night before the Dragons match.
"We all complimented him on all the strength and mental toughness that he showed getting through the other three, and then he goes out and does it again the next day," Kenny-Dowall said.
"He will be tested but he is a resilient person, and has shown that he can bounce back three times before."
Both Mata'utia and Kenny-Dowall have put their hand up to fill the left centre role vacated by Moga if required by coach Nathan Brown.
Kenny-Dowall said while there were many areas that the Knights did not execute as well as they should have against the Dragons, he identified the right-side defence as being an area that can be improved.
"The Dragons ran ragged on us out there," the winger said.
"I think we are still getting used to knowing each other's game and the way we defend, but also a bit of attitude as well.
"The boys need to learn how to grind out tough periods and not have a lay-off, because teams will expose you."