Peter Sterling has backed the Newcastle Knights as the team most likely to improve next year.
In his final Sterlo’s Wrap ever for Wide World of Sports, the Parramatta legend said he was looking north of Sydney for a team that might surprise in 2022.
While the Knights did make the post-season for the second consecutive year, it was with a record of 12 wins and 12 losses and a whopping -143 points differential.
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The team endured long stretches without key players such as Mitchell Pearce and Kayln Ponga but had enough resolve to sneak into the eight, but came up short against the Parramatta Eels in week one of the finals.
With that loss, it meant the Knights still haven’t won a finals game since 2013, when the Wayne Bennett coached upstarts sprung a huge upset over the Melbourne Storm.
But that might be about to change.
While picking his 2021 Team of the Year, Sterling named Daniel Saifiti as one of his props of the year, alongside Brisbane’s Payne Haas, before saying the Knights could surprise next season.
“I think if you give Jake Clifford another pre-season working alongside Mitchell Pearce, Tyson Frizell came into contention [for my team of the year] – I thought he had a great season,” Sterling said.
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The Knights get another strike weapon in attack with Dane Gagai returning to the club after three seasons with South Sydney, and Sterling said that as long as those key men stay off the treatment table, anything is possible.
“I think Newcastle have got a lot to offer next year. You keep their players healthy, Ponga has got to play all their games, so too Mitchell Pearce. Jacob Saifiti’s coming on in leaps and bounds as well, I’m a fan of Mitch Barnett,” he said.
“They lose Connor Watson so they’ll be looking for maybe a Kurt Mann to take over that 14 role.”
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