Knights players on notice after Brown wields axe
Newcastle Knights co-captain Aidan Guerra believes the wholesale changes to the squad for Friday night's Telstra Premiership Indigenous Round clash with the Penrith Panthers indicates not a single player can take their position for granted.
Coach Nathan Brown made a number of changes to the team that was soundly beaten by South Sydney last week, including dropping co-captain Jamie Buhrer and replacing halfback Jack Cogger and several new faces in the forwards.
Guerra and the players know the expectation is on them to perform after Brown swung the axe.
"We've spoken about our standards and what it means to us," Guerra said.
"Browny has brought in a group of players who he thinks will drive those standards this week and step up to give us every shot we need to step up."
Brock Lamb has been recalled into the side to become Connor Watson's third halves partner of the season, following in the footsteps of Cogger and the injured Mitchell Pearce.
Newcastle's starts have let them down in recent weeks, conceding two soft tries in the opening 10 minutes in last week's 36-18 loss to South Sydney.
"Last week they blew us away straight away with the speed of their ruck and their ability to find many elbows and get up quickly to play the ball," Guerra said.
"They were just putting us in bad positions with that and it happened straight from the start when they scored from the first set.
"So we took a lot out of that game against the Rabbits and we will try and be better this week."
Panthers forward Trent Merrin has been suffering from a finger fracture but trained with the squad on Wednesday. He is named in the side but will visit a specialist to get clearance to play this weekend.
Guerra insisted Newcastle weren't facing Penrith at a good time despite the Panthers' injury concerns.
"There's no real good time to get anyone in this competition," Guerra said.
"It's just such an even competition and wins are very hard to come by and you just got to work very hard for them.
"Yes, the Panthers may have a few injuries but so do we.
"It's really two sides fighting hard for a win and I am looking forward to doing it in front of our home ground."