No player is guaranteed selection under Newcastle coach Nathan Brown after the Knights’ disastrous NRL season opener.
Newcastle fielded their most inexperienced side in club history in Sunday’s 30-12 loss at a rain-soaked Gold Coast, with seven new faces including five debutants.
But new Knights mentor Brown vowed to keep churning out players until they got it right.
It may take a while.
Brown was forced to blood youngsters after the club lost almost 1,200 NRL games’ worth of experience including captain Kurt Gidley at the end of a 2015 campaign that saw the Knights finish last on the ladder.
And he may have to dig deep again for next week’s away clash with South Sydney after his side were outclassed by the bookies’ early wooden spoon favourites.
“We had a lot of debutants today and we will have more in the next seven or eight weeks – I am sure there will be a few more,” Brown said.
“The good thing is we are putting kids in who can have long term futures for the club.”
Asked if anyone was on a promise under his set-up, Brown said: “No one is given guarantees, we will go week to week.”
Certainly Brown was not going to play favourites with the few veterans who remained at the Knights.
While happy with experienced forwards such as Korbin Sims and Jeremy Smith, Brown said his priority would be developing youth.
“What we can’t do is reward older players for doing things that they have done wrong for a long period of time,” Brown said.
“Whereas a younger bloke has to get a bit of leeway.
“The key is that the young guys understand what it takes to win a game of footy.”
He only seemed to have patience for new star halves pairing Trent Hodkinson and Jarrod Mullen.
“I would like to think when the team improves they will improve,” Brown said.
“They weren’t responsible for the situations we were in a lot of the time.”
Brown – in charge of his first NRL team in eight years after his Super League hiatus – did not want to sugarcoat things for long-suffering Knights fans.
“It’s not going to get any easier against South Sydney,” he said.
“We are going to go through some tough times.
“But I have been through this a number of times.
“And the key is that the younger blokes you are bringing in, can they be good long-term players for you and can they take the club forward – that (answering that) is the key.”
Meanwhile, Newcastle’s Pauli Pauli was placed on report for a final minute late shot on Leivaha Pulu.