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Big boys braced for battle of the behemoths

Two of the NRL’s biggest packs bash bodies when the Vodafone Warriors host the Newcastle Knights at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford tonight.

And with wet weather expected to have a key influence on the contest the battle of the behemoths will take on even greater significance.

Led by beast-like new recruit Addin Fonua-Blake, the Vodafone Warriors have flipped from one of the smallest packs in the competition to possibly the biggest on deck this season. And the Knights are right up there with them.

The Vodafone Warriors will start with four forwards in the heavyweight class, second rower Eliesa Katoa the lightest at 110kg with loose forward Tohu Harris 112kg and starting front rowers Jamayne Taunoa-Brown (116) and Fonua-Blake (123). The three interchange front rowers on the bench are in the same class with Ben Murdoch-Masila weighing in at 118kg, Bunty Afoa 113kg and Leeson Ah Mau 112.

Bundle them all together and the seven players have a combined weight of 804kg, an average of 115kg a man.

Newcastle has two large frames in the front row in Daniel Saifiti at 121kg and David Klemmer at 116 with second rowers Tyson Frizzell (108) and Mitch Barnett (104) providing more beef while on the bench the Knights look to Jacob Saifiti (114), Sauaso Sue (105) and Josh King (105). They come in at a total of 773kg, an average of 110kg a player.

It all serves to make for an old-fashioned slugfest in what are expected to be demanding conditions tonight.

Both sides are coming off winning starts to the season in games when the big men were impressive.

The two contests were played in vastly contrasting conditions, the Knights and the Bulldogs battling stormy, wet conditions in Newcastle last Friday night while the Vodafone Warriors and the Titans cooked in their daytime encounter with the temperature sitting at 31 degrees.

The Knights understandably called on their middles all evening with the seven heavy lifters accounting for 961 of the team’s total of 1720 metres.  

In dry conditions, the workload was far more evenly spread among the Vodafone Warriors players with the seven big forwards accounting for 705 of the team tally of 1789 metres. All five outside backs carried the ball well over 100 metres.