Australian test player Darius Boyd will play his first game of 2014 when he travels with the team to Tamworth, for their trial match against Canberra Raiders on Saturday night.
Boyd will be joined by James McManus and Kade Snowden who are also playing their first game of the year. The Knights have named a near full strength side for the Scully Park game, with five-eight Jarrod Mullen out, replace by former Raider Michael Dobson.
Kurt Gidley is the other noticeable omission from the 22 man squad as he is still out with a foot injury. Gidley is my tip to replace Danny Buderus as hooker this season but Travis Waddell and Adam Clydsdale are also contenders for the vacant position. Like Dobson, Waddell is also up against his former club and will be out not only to stake his claim for the number 9 jersey, but also to get one up on his old team mates.
With Mullen and Gidley both out of this weekends match, it gives coach Wayne Bennett an opportunity to tinker with several positions. If given enough game time, I would like to see Darius Boyd given a shot at five-eight and see Michael Dobson slot into hooker. Boyd’s game time will ultimately come down to match fitness and Wayne Bennett will not want to over play his key man too much.
The Knights forward pack is very strong on paper, as is the bench. I expect the players will be out to impress and do their best to lock in their starting spot for Round 1 of the premiership. Keep an eye out for Alex McKinnon this weekend, I expect him to have a bumper year. McKinnon now has three seasons under Bennett and I look forward to see him step up this season.
Who do you think will be the stand out this weekend? Do you think Boyd at five-eight would work or is his best position fullback or wing? And who will get the 6 heavily contested forward positions? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.