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Knights 2021/22 Off-Season

Jono078

Coach
Messages
18,651
First I'll start with a little recap of 2021 before giving thoughts on expectations for 2022.

Is this year a pass mark? I'm not sure. If you told me in the pre-season that we'd finish 7th and bow out week 1 of the finals in a competitive game I'd probably say ok sounds like a solid season. But I don't like the style in which we achieved this. It's certainly pleasing they put in the effort to get themselves in that position when you consider the circumstances surrounding injuries and COVID, but I'm left yearning for more.

Knights overall I'd say a 6/10.

Going through some players;

Kalyn Ponga - Few on here would say I don't appreciate him but I just expect more. This was his 4th season for us and I don't know that he's improved a whole lot and certainly consistency is an issue. There are aspects of his game I cannot stand, not for someone on his pay packet and you see what other top fullbacks do so well in these areas that Ponga doesn't.
2022 : Going to assume he remains at fullback. I would like to see him improve his defensive positioning and not be in the line so much. Understand this is maybe a coached thing but we need him being better at clean-up work at the back, and as last line of defense. Hopefully he stays injury-free and our spine really gel and get our team moving around the park efficiently.

Enari Tuala - He might just turn into a really solid winger. He does need to add some muscle and impact in his kick returns though.
2022 Expectations: Continue his improvement and consistency. He's capable of being Hunt 2.0 I believe.

Bradman Best - Very mixed year but I'd say mostly below-par. It's only recently he's starting to cop some criticisms of his game. For someone of his talent and size, I'd expect to see him bend the line and explode through gaps more often than not, instead most of his hitups are in the same vain of Saifitis and Klemmer, strong but most likely not going to do much.
2022 : Stay healthy, get him involved better so he's not doing all the tough plays that dont go anywhere. I'd almost go as far as saying it's a real big year for him, he needs to take his game to the next level in attack and defense or he'll soon be looked at as another Mata'utia that never reached the heights we thought they would.

Kurt Mann - The less said the better? I think there is a solid player in there if he could eliminate the errors, but if you've been saying that he's whole career I guess you accept him for what he is now and use him only when desperate.
2022 : I think he's our new 14 and we're just going to have to hope the coaches come up with a way to best utilise him and ensure he doesn't get in our way.

Hymel Hunt - bit of a down year but still OK.
2022 : More of the usual Hymel.

Jake Clifford - Couldn't be happier with his signing. He's been a breathe of fresh air and shown some qualities we've been desperate for over the past few years. A killer kicking game and someone who wants to win and is there on all the effort plays. I think the young bloke will develop nicely and I already would say there aren't many young halves, if any, that I'd trade him for.
2022 : Continue to improve and be a more dominant member of our squad. All signs are 2022 will be huge for Clifford, IMO

Mitch Pearce - Tough one to analyse. Actual on-field performance is probably his worst season yet, but he's obviously important to the team in other ways. We need to hope he doesn't get any slower next year but the positive is he is only on a 1-year deal.
2022 : Wouldn't surprise me if he's played his last game for us today but if he's with us next year, then surely he know's it'll be a now or never season and hopefully that brings out the best in him.

David Klemmer - You know what you're going to get from him
2022: Will probably be the same old Klem. Interested to see if he's part of our roster next year though.

Jayden Brailey - This is one I want to be careful of. Brailey offers us some really good things like defense, leadership and service. I am afraid of what attacking prowess he has though. Sometimes he's too much of a distrubutor and I'd like to see more playmaking from him. I'm not sure how far his current style of play will get you/the team in the modern game. I'd like to see a bit more speed and variety with his options from the play-the-ball.

Dan Saifiti - thought he started the season really strong but then faded and injuries affected his play. Will need him to take his consistency to another level next year. When Dan is on the whole team looks good and feeds from it. His influence is that strong.

Mitch Barnett - Last year he would have some really good games then others that were really average. This year I felt was his most consistent and you could argue he was one of our best this year. Plenty of effort from him this year. I think we've witnessed his ceiling but he's good enough to be in the 17 for sure.

Expectations for 2022:

1. Sign a quality assistant / attacking/defending coach
2. Sign a quality edge forward

We basically have the same roster next year minus Watson which is a loss, because he had a fairly positive involvement for us this year. So I am a bit concerned that we have the same guys next year and we're expecting them to go at least one better than this year. We'll obviously be hoping not to test our depth so much. Knowles has me excited knowing that the players will probably be as fit as they've ever been under him.

Assuming we're healthier next year and the team is able to gel and play a better brand of footy that suits us, you would be expecting to get at least 2 more victories (Tigers) which means a 5th or 6th position is probably best case scenario and what the expectation should be.

It's going to be a long off-season but this is the first one in a few years where I'm not heading into it so excited about next years prospects. The last 3-5 years have been exciting because it's almost felt like the only way is up for the following season. This one though I'm not so sure.

I want to finish with saying I think 2022 is a make or break year for the club. Either the signs are there we've improved enough to compete with teams currently ahead of us or we falter and the roster and coach have to be blown up and start from scratch again.
 

Yosh

First Grade
Messages
9,662
Best of 2021

Daniel and Jacob Saifiti

They really faded as the year went on but they improved out of sight. Really happy we have both of them playing for our team. I hope they can continue to develop and offer their best for the whole season next year. Less errors would also help.

Tuala
Got to give the guy a wrap. He just isn't a centre. Always plays amazing when asked to play left wing. I think it's 11 tries in his last 6 games or something crazy like that. Might not offer as much coming out of our half but doesn't drop a bomb and is a lethal finisher. Probably has better defense than he gets credit for. Hope he continues to stay fit and fills the left winger role.

Barnett
Is he SBW? No. Does he give it his best every week and represent the club proudly. Hell yes. Rarely has a bad game and gives us 8/10 every week. If we need a big hit to inspires us or a difficult hit up it's almost Barnett who puts his hand up. I really like him playing lock. Is big enough and is far more skillful than people give him credit for. I think if he plays lock full time next season, we won't miss Watson at all.


Average But Expecting More in 2022

Brailey

Very solid. Made the most tackles in the competition this year. Hardly makes a mistake. Some of his cover tackles and efforts in defense were legendary. Why isn't he attacking though? Crisp service but does nothing else. Literally. If Cheese, Grant and Cook are the best in the business, he should be trying to emulate their game. I think he has the tools in his shed but maybe he isn't being coached to do it? Makes great decisions from dummy half but only uses 2 out of the 100 different options offered to him.

Best
The lad is still so young. Has all the tools but needs proper coaching now. I hope he gets it because he can be anything.

Young
Great physique. Not easy to come to another country as a teenager and get tossed into the deep end and do well. Saw plenty of promise. VERY raw but with some coaching he is going to become a deadly weapon for us. I would love to see him get some game time as an impact backrower in some games next year if our centres stay fit all year.

Tyson
I think there is much much more to his game than we saw this year. Not helped by having Pearce and Mann down his side at all. I think he can develop a deadly offload that we should be taking advantage of. I hope we utilize him better next year. Every time he runs the ball, get a nifty lad sneaking around him.


Disgusting..........

Mann

Do I hate the guy? No. Is it his fault he was played in a thousand positions? No... Was it his fault that he isn't that good? Of course not. However, it's hard to not be super disappointed with his play this year. So many mistakes and MANY were crucial. Either lost us the game or swung momentum the other way. Would crab across field whichever position he was playing and would get run over at least once a game. Should have been dropped ages ago. If he plays 14 full time next year, I don't know if I can trust AOB anymore...

Pearce
Injured for most of the season. Brought in for his finals experience, leadership and game management. Offered none. Running game was one his greatest strengths but his legs have betrayed him. I think he wants the ball too often. Should let Ponga and Clifford run the team instead of getting the ball all the time. I don't mind if he leaves next season. If he stays, I hope he learns to take a back seat.

Ponga
Had our $1,000,000 man either on the operating table or standing around not doing much on the field all season. Is turning into a highlight reel player not a superstar. Has some amazing moments every game but doesn't do much else. We could probably get that from a bench 14 who is on 30% of what he is on. Stats aren't everything but we need more from him. We need more runs, more support runs, more touches of the ball. The leading fullbacks in the competition are work horse freaks but he is more a luxury player. I think he definitely needs to move to 5/8th. At least he will get into first receiver a lot more often than he does now. Left footed so will compliment Clifford well.

Klemmer
Needs to download the latest patch update from NRL.COM because his playing style is way out of date. Does what he does extremely well but need more from our pack leader. Must update his playstyle or is going to be a 800k anchor holding us back.

Mann
He was that bad. I felt like I needed to mention him at least twice....

TLDR; we need more from our better paid players.
 
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Jono078

Coach
Messages
18,651
But now we have months of “Toughest preseason ever” and “Aiming for top 4” articles.

At least this year I'd believe it with Knowles at them helm! Pearcey might get his speed back after an off-season with him. Ponga might get handled less like a wet rag once Knowles is done with him. Best might find that extra bit of explosiveness once Knowles is done with him.

Bit sad that I'm most excited about our recruitment of a conditioning coach?
 

Jono078

Coach
Messages
18,651
Don't think I like J Saifiti being player of the year. Rewards inconsistency which he still has. No doubt he stepped up more often this year but he was still inconsistent.

How is Jones considered a rookie? Not many other options there anyway I guess.

And your player's player leaving definitely hurts.. Clearly well respected by the whole group.
 

slotmachine

First Grade
Messages
6,089
How is the Danny buderus medal decided? Seems to throw up weird results.

2017 - Barnett
2018 - KP
2019 - Barnett
2020 - KP
2021 - J Saf

Brailey should have won.
 

Old dog

Juniors
Messages
1,812
Agree Brailey should have won through absolute consistency but happy for JSaf as he has improved overall and put in many strong performances in a injury riddled side.
The selection criteria can certainly do with a makeover
 

Jono078

Coach
Messages
18,651
Can’t see the article but Brennan was highly touted by the club before going to the Gold Coast and yeah they probably had some of their worst years under him. Not to say that’s all on him though. I think a role like this might be best for him.
 

Jono078

Coach
Messages
18,651
I can't read this article but sounds like we've already made some changes to staff. Excellent to see us not waste any time and also taking action. Don't think we've been perfect but I do enjoy this new admin having a plan and sticking to their guns and acting on their words.

 

alexwilliams_66692007

First Grade
Messages
8,710
I can't read this article but sounds like we've already made some changes to staff. Excellent to see us not waste any time and also taking action. Don't think we've been perfect but I do enjoy this new admin having a plan and sticking to their guns and acting on their words.

"The high-profile Knowles, who also looks after the NSW Blues Origin squad, is understood to be bringing as many as five new faces with him to work in strength, conditioning and rehab.

The Knights will also have a new look medical department with long-time club doctor and newly awarded life member Neil Halpin stepping down.
Coach Adam O'Brien has also secured the services of experienced analyst Dennis Russell, who has been one of Trent Robinson's right hand men at the Sydney Roosters for almost a decade."
 

Jono078

Coach
Messages
18,651
"The high-profile Knowles, who also looks after the NSW Blues Origin squad, is understood to be bringing as many as five new faces with him to work in strength, conditioning and rehab.

The Knights will also have a new look medical department with long-time club doctor and newly awarded life member Neil Halpin stepping down.
Coach Adam O'Brien has also secured the services of experienced analyst Dennis Russell, who has been one of Trent Robinson's right hand men at the Sydney Roosters for almost a decade."
Wow. All sounds excellent to me.

EDIT: Not sure if the article mentions Willie Peters but my feeling he should be a priority to be replaced as attacking coach.
 

Knight Tales

Juniors
Messages
1,103
If we get close to the relentless
machine Penrith are, we will have done very well out of Knowles. Big moves off field and the WESTS power and influence starting to show. Under previous owners and bosses we would be pipe dreaming this stuff. And all of this invites players of calibre to the club. I think Gardner is finally settling into NRL CEO. I do not even know how he runs so many businesses and stays sane.
 
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alexwilliams_66692007

First Grade
Messages
8,710
Wow. All sounds excellent to me.

EDIT: Not sure if the article mentions Willie Peters but my feeling he should be a priority to be replaced as attacking coach.
Wasn't in the same article but this says we'll be sticking to the same coaching structure and not hiring anyone else
 

Jono078

Coach
Messages
18,651
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