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Beware not only of a wounded St George Illawarra outfit but also a rejuvenated Dragon in Trent Merrin.

David Klemmer is wary of the Knights opponents this Saturday in the first of two trials for Newcastle, which is the return NRL game for Merrin after a stint in Super League.

Several questions for the opening round Warriors game could be answered when the Knights meet the Dragons in Maitland this weekend and then the Roosters in Gosford the following week.

Who will play No.6? Do the Saifiti brothers start together? Where does Connor Watson fit in?

"They've got Trent Merrin back," was Klemmer's blunt assessment of what he expects in Maitland.

Klemmer reflects on Nines

"He's a world-class footy player, then you add [Paul] Vaughan, [Tyson] Frizell, and [James] Graham.

"I'm sure those blokes will all get a run this weekend so we have to be ready. It is a good test for us to see where we're at and put into practise the things we've trained for."

Klemmer is paying little heed to the fact there will be no Korbin Sims (arm), Matt Dufty (cheekbone) or Cameron McInnes (knee) courtesy of injuries picked up in the NRL Nines. 

He has eyes for Merrin. The pair played three Origins together for NSW in 2015.

"I crossed paths with Trent with the Blues and I like his style in the way he moves," Klemmer said.

Trent Merrin and David Klemmer in 2018.
Trent Merrin and David Klemmer in 2018. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

"He's got good feet on him and a nice off-load. He's a different sort of shape as a player.

"He's not that tall and he can get in between people. Trent's a great addition for the Dragons and he's back home in a jersey and with a team he loves."

The Knights forward pack don't lack in talent or size either. Fans are eager to see the Saifiti brothers – Daniel and Jacob – get more games together.

Jacob only managed seven NRL matches last year  and the first wasn't until round 16 due to a broken leg.

"I think everyone will get a run this week. Adzy [coach Adam O'Brien] hasn't named his team yet but this is a trial so he needs to see us out on the field in the heat of battle.

"It will be exciting to see the brothers together. They didn't get a lot of that in 2019."

Overall, Klemmer wants to see a high level of commitment from his forward pack.

"I want to see how our defence stacks up. We've been working on that all pre-season, trying to get good lines and endurance there.

I crossed paths with Trent with the Blues and I like his style in the way he moves

David Klemmer on Trent Merrin

"I hope we put up a good block of 20 to 30 minutes of defence to show that good effort."

Klemmer thinks his contribution will last about that amount of time.

"Whatever Adzy wants me to play. We haven't sat down to talk about minutes yet," he said.

"This weekend probably 20 to 30 minutes a stint. The body is feeling really good so I'd be hoping to add to that when the season proper begins."

So perhaps the biggest question – who has been training outside Mitchell Pearce this week?  

"Well, Phoenix [Crossland] is still injured so young 'Simmy' [Nathanael Sasagi] has been there and doing well. But it'll be interesting to see how Adzy goes with these two trials," Klemmer said.

"We also saw in Perth at the Nines what Kurt Mann can do in attack and I know Adzy has a lot of confidence in him."

Five key match-ups of the Knights' 2020 draw

Sasagi scored a try in the Knights win over the Panthers at the Nines.

He had a mixed 2019 with making his debut in the Under 20s and scoring three tries against Manly but then a lower back stress fracture wrecked his year.

Sasagi hasn't been mentioned much in dispatches with the likes of Crossland, Mann, Connor Watson and Mason Lino also in the five-eighth picture.

But all will be revealed over the next fortnight. And Klemmer is up for it.

"I can't wait. We started today with our game-week training, which means we really got flogged, but I loved it.

"It means the football is really close now."

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