Forgotten forward Anthony Tupou looks set to make his NRL return with Newcastle this week as coach Nathan Brown considers wielding the axe in the wake of their 40-0 loss to Penrith.
Tupou, 34, has not earned Knights selection this year after receiving an NRL lifeline in the off-season following a short-lived English stint.
However, Brown said the former Test and NSW back-rower was finally in line for a run in the fallout over their last-round thumping.
“We’ve got a few blokes that can come in if needed – Tupes is probably ready for a game now,” Brown said on Monday.
“There’s certainly been a few guys below par for a couple of weeks in a row now.
“And injuries will play a part as well.”
Reserve Jacob Saifiti and hooker Danny Levi must pass concussion protocols and forward Mitch Barnett and pivot Brock Lamb picked up niggles in the Penrith rout.
“There’s going to be one or two injury concerns – when you get beat up that happens,” Brown said.
The Knights mentor said he would welcome back fullback Brendan Elliot for Saturday’s clash at Cronulla.
Elliot was sidelined against the Panthers after a head knock the week before against South Sydney.
He was allowed to stay on the field after a high shot from South Sydney centre Hymel Hunt, earning Newcastle a $100,000 breach notice from the NRL.
Brown said a review of the Panthers clash was hard to watch but he expected a response from his battered Knights against the Sharks.
“A review is always hard when you have a loss of that extent – we certainly got a football lesson the other day,” Brown said.
“But when you get a touch up like that you’d be disappointed if the players weren’t disappointed about it.
“Now we’d like to get a really good response this week.”
Newcastle’s loss marked the 22nd straight game the Knights had conceded 20 or more points.
“I don’t think our attitude and commitment is doubted but certainly our goal line defence needs to improve,” Brown said.
“We showed in the first three rounds a lot of our players are physically far more capable than last year – it’s just a matter of being able to do it week in, week out.
“We’re far from a finished article.”