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Bennett unfazed by giant Canterbury pack

They may find themselves dwarfed in size on Sunday but Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett says his forwards have the street smarts to get the better of Canterbury's giants in the NRL elimination final.
Bennett unfazed by giant Canterbury pack
by AAP

By Ian McCullough

SYDNEY, Sept 11 AAP - They may find themselves dwarfed in size on Sunday but Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett says his forwards have the street smarts to get the better of Canterbury's giants in the NRL elimination final.

The Knights face the daunting prospect of keeping Bulldogs behemoths Tony Williams and Sam Kasiano in check in addition to stopping James Graham, Michael Ennis and Aiden Tolman at ANZ Stadium.

Their task will be made even harder by the absence of influential prop Kade Snowden due to suspension, but Bennett said what his pack lack in stature they more than match Des Hasler's men for in physicality.

"This is a group of men I sure don't have a lot of fear about," Bennett said.

"Willie Mason, David Fa'alogo, Danny Buderus, Jeremy Smith, Beau Scott and a young fella who has stood up all for us all year in Robbie Rochow.

"They can all be as tough as they like and don't think these guys are going to run away from it."

Buderus rolled back the years with a superb display against Parramatta last Sunday in his final game at Hunter Stadium before hanging up his boots.

Bennett brought the former NSW skipper back to the club after a three-year stint in the UK and the seven-time premiership-winning coach said the 35-year-old is playing as well as ever in the twilight of his stellar career.

"Age is not the issue with Danny, people need to stop looking at his birthdate. It's what you do, not how old you are," Bennett said.

"My older players have been tremendous here. People can criticise their age but if they look at it honestly they can't criticise their performances.

"Danny on Sunday was as good as anything you will see. Willie has been tremendous and after that the rest of them are young and I've been really pleased with them over the last few months."

Bennett's arrival at the club in early 2012 thanks to the millions of Nathan Tinkler was expected to be the start of a golden era for the club.

But the Knights missed the finals in his first season and looked destined to do so again midway through the year before finishing seventh on the ladder.

However, the veteran mentor now feels for the first time since taking over the team's on the right track.

"We were terribly inconsistent for a season-and-a half, but we have found some consistency now and doing a lot of things good teams do," he said.

"That gives me as much confidence as anything else.

"We've done a lot of good things this year.

"But we haven't talked about grand finals. We have a pretty rough road in front of us - we just have to get through Sunday - you have to take it as a week to week thing.

"If you don't you'll be out."




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