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Boyd plays 5-8 in Knights trial win

Newcastle will consider playing Darius Boyd at five-eighth in a revamped backline after losing star playmaker Jarrod Mullen during the week to a serious hamstring injury.
Boyd plays 5-8 in Knights trial win
by AAP

By Ben Horne

SYDNEY, Feb 22 AAP - Newcastle will consider playing Darius Boyd at five-eighth in a revamped backline after losing star playmaker Jarrod Mullen during the week to a serious hamstring injury.

The Knights romped to a comprehensive 34-10 NRL trial win over Canberra in Tamworth on Saturday night, with centre BJ Leilua starring with two tries.

Coach Wayne Bennett pulled a selection shock by switching Dane Gagai to fullback and trying Queensland State of Origin regular Boyd at five-eighth.

Bennett famously turned Darren Lockyer from a No.1 into a No.6 and Boyd could be his latest experiment.

However, captain Kurt Gidley came on in the final 20 minutes and played exclusively at five-eighth to suggest he's the frontrunner to replace Mullen in the halves, who will miss up to four months.

Halfback Tyrone Roberts was strong for Newcastle at halfback, and after re-signing with the club for a further two years this week, he'll be set for a major jump in responsibilities following Mullen's demise.

The No.7's kicking game was sharp during his time on the field and it will need to stay that way when the season proper kicks off in a fortnight's time, given Mullen has one of the best left-boots in the game.

Roberts set up Akuila Uate for a first-half try with a pin-point kick, as the Knights went to the break with a 12-10 lead.

Bennett has plenty of options in the halves, with Michael Dobson also spending time in the middle.

Canberra played their stronger side in the opening 40 minutes, and Jack Wighton appears a frontrunner to wear the No.7 under new coach Ricky Stuart after spending time in the halves alongside Terry Campese.

Wighton has played the majority of his young career at centre or wing, but Stuart believes he has the game smarts and kicking game to succeed closer to the action.

The 21-year-old played five-eighth when coming through the grades in the under-20s competition and a nice kick set winger Edrick Lee up for the Raiders first try.

Canberra forward Paul Vaughan was another standout up front for the visitors, while Josh McCrone and Glenn Buttriss both put their hands up for the vacant hooker position with strong efforts.

Newcastle forward Zane Tetevano suffered a hand injury and forward Jeremy Smith was taken off as a precaution with a bump on his knee.


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