The Knights will be well below full strength for Saturday's home game against the Warriors.
After initially preparing to be without injured fullback Kalyn Ponga and Origin reps Daniel Saifiti and Tim Glasby, Newcastle lost two more stars during the week when David Klemmer and Mitchell Pearce were rushed into the NSW team to replace Tariq Sims and Nathan Cleary.
The Knights have shown over the past two months or so that they don't rely on one player, but this game will test their depth like no other this season.
The Warriors failed to perform yet again at home last week and Stephen Kearney might cop some serious heat if he can't orchestrate a victory over a depleted Knights.
Knights: After the loss of David Klemmer and Mitchell Pearce to Origin duty following selection in their club team, coach Nathan Brown has made a host of positional change an hour out from kick-off. Jamie Buhrer moves into the second row, Kurt Mann to halfback, Sione Mata'utia into the centres, Josh King from the bench to the front row and Jacob Saifiti from prop to the bench. Tex Hoy and Tautau Moga were the final two players left out of the squad.
Warriors: Issac Luke and Lachlan Burr return on the bench with Nathaniel Roache (knee, season) dropping out. Gerard Beale replaces Patrick Herbert in the centres while Ligi Sao dropped out of the 19-man squad 24 hours before kick-off. Leivaha Pulu and Chanel Harris-Tevita were left out 60 minutes before game time.
Connor Watson has a big challenge on his hands to out-play Warriors counterpart Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, especially with so many regulars out of action through injury and Origin duty. Nathan Brown will be asking every one of his players to find a little bit extra this week and will be leaning on Watson to provide plenty of energy and enthusiasm.
For the Knights to win
Take control of the game early. In the absence of play-making stars Ponga and Pearce, the Knights need to rely on a one in-all in approach and do their best to emulate Pearce's kicking game. They need to build an early lead and put the wildly inconsistent Warriors under pressure.
For the Warriors to win
Strong defence is key. For the Warriors to win this game they must complete sets and stay committed to tackling. If they are able to avoid mistakes and stick to the game plan early they can look to take advantage later in the game.
Brett Kimmorley says
The Knights are playing a tough brand of football. Jesse Ramien started to show us a little bit of form last week. If the Knights are able to get him some early ball, he will open some space up for them. The Warriors were just not good enough to win a tight match last weekend. I think the Knights will give them another of those this weekend before a huge crowd. Knights by 2
The typically inconsistent Warriors have won just five games - one more than the Bulldogs and Titans. The Warriors have struggled with defence this season, conceding an average of 21 points per game - fourth worst in the competition.
And another thing ...
Keep your eye on Ken Maumalo, who has scored 10 tries in 13 games for the Warriors this season. Maumalo sits behind only Cody Walker and Maika Sivo on the top try-scorers list and could pass them with a big game on Saturday.