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Rugby league: Nathan Brown says Knights have long way to go to match competition heavyweights
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COACH Nathan Brown has hinted at making changes and warned the Knights have “a long way to go” to consistently compete with the leading sides in the NRL.

Stinging from a 40-0 thumping to Penrith, the Knights face a daunting trip to Cronulla to take on the defending premiers on Saturday.

“The first three weeks we did really well,” Brown said. “On the weekend, we got it wrong for whatever reason and got our just rewards. If you are not on your game physically and you play a side like Penrith, who have a lot of good footy players and are a very good attacking side, then you will get into trouble.”

After three encouraging performances, highlighted by a drought-breaking 34-26 triumph over the Titans, the Knights had no answers to the power and pace of the Panthers.

“We showed in the first three rounds, that physically a lot of our players are more capable,” Brown said. “It is a matter of being able to do it week-in, week-out. That is a tough challenge for good seasoned players, let alone young players who are still learning their way. Off the back of the Panthers forwards dominating, their skillful players took over and gave us a real lesson.”

Though disappointed with the performance, especially the goal-line defence, Brown remains confident last season’s wooden spooners are heading in the right direction.

“We are far from the finished article,” he said. “Even though we all agree we were playing far, far better in the first three weeks, our goal-line D wasn’t where it needed to be and some of our game management … we still have a long way to get to where you want to get to.”

Mitch Barnett, Brock Lamb, Jacob Saifiti and Danny Levi picked up knocks against the Panthers and are in doubt for Saturday,

“We have a few bumps and bruises so there is going to be one or two guys who are doubtful this week,” Brown said. “When you get beat up, you usually have a few concerns. Jacob Saifiti will have to pass the concussion protocols and Danny Levi has to pass concussion protocols as well.”

On the plus side, fullback Brendan Elliot has recovered from a head knock and Brown said there could be other changes.

“There are certainly some guys who have probably been a little below par for a couple of weeks in a row now,” he said. “Tupes (Anthony Tupou) is almost ready for a game. There were a couple of performances in reserve grade that were good on the weekend. There are a number of things we have to look at.”

Meanwhile, the Knights will on Tuesday lodge their submission to have a $100,000 fine for failing to adhere to concussion protocols withdrawn.

The Knights received a breach notice after fullback Elliot was not taken from the field for a head injury assessment when hit high in a tackle during the first half of the 24-18 loss to the Rabbitohs a fortnight ago.

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