2001 and 1997 are two extremely celebrated years for the nib Newcastle Knights.
The two premierships came relatively close together and cemented the Knights place as one of the best teams of their generation.
However, the two Grand Final teams were vastly different.
Andrew Johns, Mark Hughes, Robbie O’Davis, Adam MacDougall and Bill Peden were the only players to feature in both games.
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On this week’s episode of Freddy & the Eighth, Johns delved into the question of who would win a hypothetical face-off between the two sides.
It posed as an interesting question.
The ‘97 team featured the likes of Marc Glanville, Matthew Johns, Adam Muir and Darren Albert, who were all either in the twilight of their careers or headed elsewhere in the years following that famous afternoon at the old Sydney Football Stadium.
Their departures ushered in a new, exciting generation of Knights stars, who played a key role in the 2001 decider against Parramatta.
Timana Tahu, Matthew Gidley, Danny Buderus and Steve Simpson all played a key role in producing the ‘perfect half’, blowing the Eels away to clinch the Club’s second premiership.
However, it was a backrower signed from the Canberra Raiders that made the decision for ‘Joey’ Johns easy when quizzed about the hypothetical clash.
“I got the call this morning, asking who would win between my two grand finals, 2001 or ‘97,” Johns said.
“I think 2001 would beat the ’97, because of Ben Kennedy.
“If we had Ben Kennedy in ’97, we would have beat the 2001 team.”
Kennedy was a shining light in the ’01 decider, scoring a first-half try and terrorising the Eels forward pack.
While Johns claimed the Clive Churchill Medal as best-on-ground, many pundits believe the award could’ve gone to Kennedy.
“That’s how influential he was,” Johns said.
“Hopefully Tyson Frizell is the modern day Ben Kennedy for the Knights.”
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