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The Knights are coming off a win in round 12 and a bye in round 13 so they should be refreshed and ready to take the game up to the premiers.

Penrith went about their business in clinical fashion against the Bulldogs and got the job done even without six of their big-name stars on Origin duty.

How many of those players back up after Wednesday's series opener remains to be seen but such is the Panthers' depth that they will go in as clear favourites to rack up a 13th win of the season.

The Knights have Kalyn Ponga and Dane Gagai on show for Queensland and both are likely to back up should they get through the game with a clean bill of health.

Sportsbet Betting preview: Knights v Panthers

The Rundown

Team news

Knights: The Knights are 1-17 with no late changes. A boost for Newcastle with  utility Kurt Mann returning from an ankle injury for his first game since round seven, pushing Phoenix Crossland to the reserves. Jacob Saifiti moves into the starting side to replace his brother Daniel, who is out with a knee injury. Leo Thompson comes onto the bench.

Skipper Kalyn Ponga and Dane Gagai will back up from Wednesday night's Origin opener. 

Panthers: Coach Ivan Cleary will miss the match for medical reasons but there are no late changes on the field on game day. Nathan Cleary, Liam Martin, Stephen Crichton, Brian To'o and Jarome Luai will all back up from Origin but Isaah Yeo will be rested, with Matt Eisenhuth taking his spot in the starting side and Spencer Leniu joining the bench. Robert Jennings is 18th man.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn Ponga
    Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
  • Winger for Knights is number 2 Edrick Lee
    Winger for Panthers is number 2 Taylan May
  • Centre for Knights is number 3 Dane Gagai
    Centre for Panthers is number 3 Izack Tago
  • Centre for Knights is number 4 Enari Tuala
    Centre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen Crichton
  • Winger for Knights is number 5 Dominic Young
    Winger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'o
  • Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Anthony Milford
    Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome Luai
  • Halfback for Knights is number 7 Jake Clifford
    Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary

Forwards

  • Prop for Knights is number 8 David Klemmer
    Prop for Panthers is number 8 Moses Leota
  • Hooker for Knights is number 9 Chris Randall
    Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai Koroisau
  • Prop for Knights is number 10 Jacob Saifiti
    Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Tyson Frizell
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Lachlan Fitzgibbon
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin
  • Lock for Knights is number 13 Mitchell Barnett
    Lock for Panthers is number 16 Matthew Eisenhuth

Interchange

  • Interchange for Knights is number 14 Kurt Mann
    Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Mitch Kenny
  • Interchange for Knights is number 15 Simi Sasagi
    Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Scott Sorensen
  • Interchange for Knights is number 16 Leo Thompson
    Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Jaeman Salmon
  • Interchange for Knights is number 17 Mat Croker
    Interchange for Panthers is number 22 Spencer Leniu

Reserves

  • Replacement for Knights is number 18 Pasami Saulo
    Replacement for Panthers is number 18 Robert Jennings

Match Officials

  • Referee: Ben Cummins
  • Touch Judge: Liam Kennedy
  • Touch Judge: Jon Stone
  • Senior Review Official: Gerard Sutton

Last updated:

Key match-up

Jacob Saifiti v James Fisher-Harris: Having earned selection in Brad Fittler's NSW squad, Saifiti should be walking taller as he returns to his club team for a showdown with the competition's benchmark team. Now a veteran of 110 games in the NRL, Saifiti knows what is required to take the fight up to Fisher-Harris, Moses Leota and co. In 12 appearances this year, JFH has churned out 147 metres per game, 15 tackle breaks and made 30 tackles a game, emphasising his importance to the premiers with a string of high-quality performances.

Stat Attack

The Knights have won just one of five games at McDonald Jones Stadium this season and been outscored 159 to 48 across those five matches. The losses came against Manly (30-6), Parramatta (39-2), Melbourne (50-2) and Brisbane (36-12). The Knights won five of nine games at McDonald Jones last season.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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