The Newcastle Knights have fallen on hard times since their stunning exploits in the early years of the NRL.
Finals were on the cards for much of the 2019 campaign, but the Knights lost the plot late in the year and wound up down in 11th place.
Can Newcastle crack into the top eight in 2020? Let’s see where they sit with the bookies in the latest NRL outright betting markets.
About the Newcastle Knights
|Home ground:||McDonald Jones Stadium|
|Premierships:||Two – 1997, 2001|
|2019 ladder finish:||11th (10-14)|
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Updated Newcastle Knights futures odds
|2020 Premiership||Make Finals||Make Top 4||Dally M Odds|
Best Newcastle Knights bets for NRL 2020
There are dozens of NRL futures markets for Newcastle, but where are they likely to return some real value?
Click on the tabs below to get more analysis on these markets:
- The Knights showed plenty of improvement last year, but not enough to crack finals. Although they should be in or around the top eight in 2020, it is far too soon to start talking about premierships.
- A top-four finish looked on the cards for much of last season, but the second half of the year was a disaster and Nathan Brown had to go. While a lot hinges on the form and fitness of Kalyn Ponga, the Knights have enough talent to push for a finals berth.
- Kalyn Ponga started the 2019 NRL season as the runaway favourite in the Dally M Medal betting, but injury troubles ruined his chances. If he stays fit and Newcastle have a decent year, the Queensland fullback will be right up there.
Knights players to watch in 2020
Ponga could play anywhere in the back half, but his influence from fullback was highlighted last year when he scored 11 tries in the space of 12 starts. A full campaign from the WA-born star will put the Knights right in the mix for finals.
It was not Pearce’s fault that Newcastle fell short of the mark last season. The veteran halfback was excellent in his second campaign with the Knights and earned a well-deserved recall to NSW’s State of Origin squad.
Moga’s first two years at McDonald Jones Stadium were nothing short of disastrous. With Jesse Ramien gone, Newcastle need their journeyman centre to step up and stay out of trouble.
Newcastle Knights records and stats
- Most games: 257 – Danny Buderus
Most career points: 2,176 – Andrew Johns
Most career tries: 110 – Akuila Uate
Most points in a season: 279 – Andrew Johns (2001)
Most tries in a season: 21 – Timana Tahu (2002) and Akuila Uate (2010)
- Most consecutive wins: 11 (2001-02)
Most consecutive losses: 19 (2016-17)
Highest score: 70-32 (vs. Raiders, 2006)
Biggest winning margin: 60-0 (vs. Rabbitohs, 1999)
Biggest losing margin: 6-71 (vs. Broncos, 2007)
Largest NRL attendance: 32,642 (vs. Sea Eagles, 1995)
- Newcastle’s rugby league story is much, much older than the Knights. The city was home to one of the nine clubs that founded the NSW Rugby Football League way back in 1908. However, the Newcastle Rebels left the competition after only two seasons when most of their homegrown talent jumped ship to play in a new local league.
Although Sydneysiders regarded it as a second-rate competition, the Newcastle Rugby League soon became one of Australia’s strongest regional sporting divisions. It fielded a number of successful representative teams throughout the 20th century, several of which were good enough to beat touring sides from interstate and overseas. League legends Clive Churchill, John Sattler, Les Johns and Johnny Graves all played in Newcastle, while NSW and Kangaroos hero Wally Prigg spent his entire club career there.
As the NSWRL began to expand in the 1960s, talk arose of a new team based in the Hunter Region. However, clubs and league administrators in Newcastle worried that such a move would diminish the value and status of their own competition. They declined an invitation to enter a side in the NSWRL in 1982, which led to the foundation of the Canberra Raiders instead.
It was a different story a few years later when nationwide expansion became inevitable. In 1988, the Newcastle Knights joined the Sydney first-grade competition along with the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast-Tweed Giants. The team was an instant hit with rugby league fans in country NSW and took only three seasons to reach the playoffs.
The Knights’ popularity was highlighted during and after the Super League wars of the mid-1990s, when the rival Hunter Mariners franchise came and went within a matter of years. It helped that Newcastle won the Australian Rugby League title in 1997 with the assistance of a handy little footballer by the name of Andrew Johns, who would go on to win three Dally M Player of the Year awards.
The red and blue have endured a few ups and downs since those heady days. A drugs scandal tarnished their success of the late ’90s, while the city as a whole fell on hard times after the closure of the BHP Steelworks. Even the 2011 signing of Queensland super-coach Wayne Bennett could not inspire the Knights to glory. Three wooden spoons later, the only way is up for Newcastle.