The Knights’ final game of the year probably can’t come quick enough as their tired (and wounded) football team squares off against the Dragons who are limping into the finals for the first time in a few years.
Both coaches will be working overtime this week to prepare and get the best out of their teams for vastly different reasons.
Nathan Brown will be attempting to motivate his troops for one last effort – as the Old Boys converge on McDonald Jones Stadium – for their annual catch-up as they rekindle old friendships from the past 30 years.
As always, it will be an emotional farewell for a couple of the Knights’ retiring players including Chris Heighington and Jacob Lillyman while it will be a debut to remember for 20-year-old Tom Starling – what a thrill for him and his family.
No doubt a couple of Old Boys will tell their stories about some of the battles they endured from a different era – including what it means to represent the Red and Blue of Newcastle.
One of my most vivid memories of a former player over coming adversity to take his place alongside some of his great mates in 2004 was one of the Knights’ legends Danny Buderus.
Suffering from a chronic toe condition (including a bad infection) – Danny spent two days in hospital on a drip and had to have the toe injected several times – so he could take the field with three of his best mates Mark Hughes, Ben Kennedy and Matt Parson who were leaving the football club.
His decision was critical to our team’s success in beating the Wests Tigers that night and it was crucial in him receiving some votes before he was crowned Dally M Player of the Year a fortnight later.
Meanwhile, Paul McGregor will have to restore some confidence into his team after they were demoralised by the Bulldogs last weekend at home in one of their worst defeats in their proud club’s history.
It is remarkable to think that a team that was leading the competition after eight roads could capitulate so badly and are predicted to bow out of the finals in week 1.
He has no option but to challenge his players – including their highly rated forward pack led by James Graham and their star halfback Ben Hunt who has not regained the form he showed at the start of the season.
Maybe McGregor can use the motivation of Old Boys day to get his team back on track to see if they can make any headway in the end of season games.
Of the eight teams left in the competition they have the worst for and against (in the last four weeks) conceding an average of 25 points in defence and scoring less than 10 points in attack.
It will require a monumental effort for them to beat the Knights and a minor miracle for them to advance past week 1 of the play-offs.