Knights need more NRL history under Brown

Knights coach Nathan Brown admits the next run of fixtures will be a huge test for his side.
Knights coach Nathan Brown admits the next run of fixtures will be a huge test for his side.

Newcastle's players will be asked to break new ground under coach Nathan Brown in a daunting litmus test over the NRL's representative period.

Fresh from winning four-straight for the first time under Brown with Sunday's 45-12 flogging of St George Illawarra, the Knights have the most difficult month ahead of any teams with matches against the competition's top three sides.

Friday night's clash with defending premiers Sydney Roosters could hardly have been considered a blockbuster four weeks ago, but now shapes as the match of round 11.

The sixth-placed Knights then have the bye followed by South Sydney and Melbourne - with both matches on the road and all their representative stars available for selection.

Newcastle haven't beaten any of the three teams during Brown's rebuild, with nine-straight losses against Souths, six in a row against Melbourne and 10 defeats in their past 11 games against the Roosters.

"That'll be a really good gauge of where we are at," coach Brown said.

"In a month we will know where we sit compared to those sides and the work we have to do.

"We should feel confident if we are fit and doing things right and preparing well we can give ourselves a shot against whoever comes up."

Sunday's win over the Dragons was arguably their best performance under Brown, with the 33-point victory margin the Knights' largest since 2013.

The 45 points were also the most scored since Brown's tenure began in 2016, as Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga ran riot in Mudgee.

But Brown warned his players they'll have to stave off an offensive onslaught from the Roosters before they can work their own magic with the ball.

"Next week the Roosters' roster is probably the strongest 23 or 24-man squad in the competition clearly," Brown said.

"We're going to get a really defensively physical challenge next week. We need to meet that bit first and then we will get a chance for our attack to maybe do something.

"We will be huge underdogs."

Australian Associated Press