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Dragons back-rower Tariq Sims.

Knights coach Adam O'Brien won't put a heavy focus on Sam Walker ahead of Saturday night's clash with the Roosters but admitted throwing more traffic at him is part of Newcastle's plans.

Walker has helped guide the Roosters to three wins from four games since injured star Luke Keary suffered a season-ending ACL rupture last month.

Only O'Brien's former club, Melbourne, has been able to contain Walker's impact on a game since his impressive introduction into first grade.

The 18-year-old is coming off a man of the match performance against the Dragons on Anzac Day where he took control of the side in an effort that showed maturity beyond his years.

"We understand we need to defend well with him and we probably need to send some traffic at him," O'Brien said.

"That's no surprise, everyone has tried to do it but the kid aims up. I don't put all the eggs in the Sam Walker basket, they've got quality [players] across the park."

The fundamentals of try-line defence

O'Brien has plenty of pedigree to throw at Walker, including edge runners Mitchell Barnett and Bradman Best.

Left-edge specialist forward Lachlan Fitzgibbon could also return from a shoulder injury, while Kalyn Ponga has found success down the same corridor in recent weeks.

The Knights coach took promise from their 18-point defeat to the Panthers last start despite the scoreline blowing out late in the contest.

"I thought we did an outstanding job [last week]," O'Brien said.

The magic of Brisbane

"Although we've leaked 20 plus points in the last couple of weeks, we're defending better than we were in games that we won.

"We need to ask more questions of the opposition's defence when we've got the ball."

O'Brien will go head-to-head with Roosters coach Trent Robinson for just the second time after spending 12 months with the Bondi outfit in 2019 before landing the top Knights job last year.

Robinson's side did a demolition job on O'Brien's men last time the two sides met at the SCG but the Tricolours will go into the clash without chief destroyer Keary, who played a key role in the win.

Roosters captain James Tedesco is also in doubt after a nasty head knock last week.

The Roosters were written off by many pundits once Keary's season was declared over but O'Brien was among those not surprised by the opponent's ability to march on.

"Having been there, they're well-coached, they understand their roles, they're experienced and they still have a hunger for success," O'Brien said.

"They can score tries in rapid succession. We found that out last year. Luke Keary did some damage but guys like Drew Hutchison and Sam Walker can do the same. We need to be on defensively all night."


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