Adam O’Brien flags changes despite heavy injury to stop Knights rut

Adam O’Brien has suggested he could look to changes on the team sheet to lift the Knights out of their rut ahead of a difficult road trip to Townsville to face the red hot Cowboys.

Newcastle’s dire start to the season reached new lows on Sunday with a 50-2 loss at home to Melbourne, whose backline ran rings around the Knights’ edges.

Spending just over 17 minutes in possession, completing 55 per cent of their sets and committing several fundamental errors throughout the contest, their attack was just as hard to watch for O’Brien and his staff.

Meanwhile, the heavy defeat came against the backdrop of an impressive performance from the Knights reserves, who were led by three tries from impressive young halfback Dylan Phythian.

The possibility of team adjustments to try and arrest what is now a six-game losing streak was flagged by O’Brien after the match.

However, with the club’s lengthy injury toll, which includes Mitch Barnett, Jayden Brailey, Dane Gagai among others, his options are limited.

“13 out of the squad are out and eight of them have got 100 games plus so we’ve got some key personnel out,” he said.

“You can bring young guys in and sometimes they’ll give you three or four games and then you need to spell them and we can’t do that, we need to just keep playing them.

“There are no consequences for poor performance because you can’t drop guys… I can’t fill the 24 (players) on the team sheet – I’m nearly making names up.”

O’Brien was forced to apologise to Knights fans after his side’s performance in last week’s loss.

Despite the Knights shooting themselves in the foot on countless occasions on Sunday, committing 13 errors including kicking out on the full twice, O’Brien claimed there was an improvement from his side’s effort on last week.

“If you look at the scoreline you wouldn’t think there was but there was a response, especially from our middles,” he declared.

“There were some parts I didn’t see like the fundamentals – catching the ball off kickoffs, kicking off properly – I’m not happy with that stuff.

“Some individuals showed they really cared but we were still soft in some parts out on our edges.

“(Melbourne) played way too quick. Harry (Grant) had way too much time, they were having a good time out there at the end.”

O’Brien wanted to remind fans of how the side pulled themselves out of a long run of losses last season to sneak into the finals and backed his side to the same this season.

“No one’s gonna feel sorry for us and we don’t want that, we don’t want people’s sympathy. We don’t want to be kicked unnecessarily but we don’t want sympathy,” he added.

“We’ll get together and we’ll fight it. We did it last year when we were in a losing streak and then you get a couple of key personnel back and get some confidence back

“With the fundamental areas of our game today, that’s confidence. You stop seeing things clearly.”

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