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Newcastle Herald

Clifford set to return for Newcastle Knights against Warriors

Newcastle will use their fifth set of havles in as many weeks after Jake Cilfford was named to return against the New Zealand Warriors on Saturday.

Knights coach Adam O'Brien has opted to bring Clifford back into the side at halfback ahead of Adam Clune, who has worn the No.7 jersey in all but two games this season.

Clune has been struggling with a knee injury in recent weeks and was left out of the 24-man match squad entirely on Tuesday.

He appears to have been given a week off to nurse the lingering problem after not being named in the reserve-grade side either.

Clifford has missed the Knights' past three games after being spelled following a poor performance in the side's 50-2 loss to Melbourne in round eight.

After a couple of weeks out, the 24-year-old played NSW Cup on Saturday and had a solid performance in the Knights' 27-20 win over the Dragons, setting up two tries.

Jake Clifford. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

The 63-game playmaker will partner Anthony Milford in the halves for the first time.

Milford, 27, made a handy club debut last week against former team Brisbane.

The duo will be the Knights' fifth set of halves in as many weeks and sixth combination this season.

Clifford's inclusion was the only major change O'Brien made to the side that lost 36-12 to the Broncos on Thursday.

Enari Tuala comes in at centre to replace Bradman Best after being left out against the Broncos to accomdate Dane Gagai's return.

Best suffered a dislocated elbow midway through the second half of last week's game and did not return.

The 20-year-old centre is expected to miss four to six weeks, but could only miss three games as there are two upcoming byes.

The Knights, running second last but on an equal six points with the Titans and Tigers, face the 12th-placed Warriors at Redcliffe in Queensland on Saturday afternoon.

A win would elevate them to equal standing with the Nathan-Brown coached Warriors before a bye the following weekend.

The Warriors have lost their past three games and will be playing their third-last home game in Australia before a planned return to New Zealand next month.

Brown named almost the same side that lost to the Dragons 24-18 on Saturday.

Crafty playmaker Chanel Harris-Tavita comes back in the team at five-eighth, while barnstorming prop Addin Fonua-Blake has been ruled out with an ankle injury.

Newcastle Knights starting side: Round 12, 2022 NRL season

  • 1. Kalyn Ponga (C)
  • 2. Edrick Lee
  • 3. Dane Gagai
  • 4. Enari Tuala
  • 5. Dominic Young
  • 6. Anthony Milford
  • 7. Jake Clifford
  • 8. David Klemmer
  • 9. Chris Randall
  • 10. Daniel Saifiti
  • 11. Tyson Frizell
  • 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon
  • 13. Mitchell Barnett

Interchange:

  • 14. Phoenix Crossland
  • 15. Jacob Saifiti
  • 16. Leo Thompson
  • 17. Mathew Croker

Extended squad:

  • 18. Simi Sasagi
  • 19. Brodie Jones
  • 20. Tex Hoy
  • 21. Sauaso Sue
  • 22. Pasami Saulo
  • 23. Krystian Mapapalangi
  • 24. Brayden Musgrove