Selection options finally give Brown a chance to wield the axe TweetFacebookIt has taken more than two seasons to achieve it but Nathan Brown is nowin a position where he can actually pick a side based largelyon form.
The Knights coach can actuallyreward players for playing well and punish those that don’t.
Finally,he canput a price on aKnights NRLjumper.
It’sa luxury he hasn’t had in his first two years as coach because of the poorstate of the playing roster.
In many cases, jumpers weren’t earned.They werehandedout toplayers out of necessity.
READ MORE: Newcastle Knights newsPoor individual performances were rarely punished because there was no one better to take their place.
Butthe added depth in his current squad this season now gives Brownsome options.
And on Tuesday, he put everyoneon notice.
Four players who featured againstSouths won’t be there forFriday night’s clash against Penrithat McDonald Jones Stadium.
It is the biggest shake-up of the team since he took overthe coaching reins at the club and came in response to the 36-18 loss to the Rabbitohs in the last round.
Among the four to be axed is co-captain Jamie Buhrer, a player and person Brown greatly admires.
It’s an indication to everyonethat no matter your standing within the club, it won’t be enough to save you if you are not consistently producing on the park.
And neither it should.
Brown’s biggest problem with some of his younger players this season has been trying to rid them of their sense of entitlement.
Several have played NRL before their time and before they would have at any other club.
But because of that taste of the top grade over the past couple of seasons and the knowledge they would more than likely hold their spot no matter how well they played, they haven’t had to fight for their positions. They haven’t had to earn the jumper.
But all that has changed.
Brown says the hard lessons being learnt now will benefit his players in the long run.
“The first 18 months [I was here] ,we were sort of giving the jumpers away to blokes to get experience,” Brown said on Tuesday.
“If they weren’t playing well, they were still getting picked and if they weren’t improving, they were still getting picked because that is where we were as a club.
“The downside tothat is how much people want to fight to keep it orhow much they appreciate it.”
Brown will be hoping the impact of the changes resonate withhis players against the Panthers.