KNIGHTS coach Wayne Bennett has named former New Zealand Test back-rower Zeb Taia as a replacement for injured prop Kade Snowden for Newcastle’s game against South Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
Bennett named a five-man bench including Kyle O’Donnell, the younger brother of former NSW and Australian back-rower Luke O’Donnell, and hooker Chris Adams.
If Kyle O’Donnell is included in the final 17, he will make his NRL debut having joined the Knights from Cronulla at the start of last season.
Snowden, a former NSW and Australian representative, suffered a grade-three tear of the medial ligament in his left knee in Newcastle’s 20-12 victory over the Eels at Parramatta Stadium last Saturday night and is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.
Taia, who will leave the Knights at the end of the season to join France-based English Super League club Catalans Dragons, will partner former NSW and Australian veterans Danny Buderus and Willie Mason in an all-international front row.
Queensland Origin winger Darius Boyd was named at fullback, replacing Kevin Naiqama.
After successive wins against the Eels and Wests Tigers, the Knights are chasing a third straight victory to try to keep their faint finals hopes alive.
Souths coach Michael Maguire named a 19-man squad which included Queensland Origin fullback Greg Inglis, English Test prop Sam Burgess and dumped Maroons forward Dave Taylor in the starting side.
Kyle O’Donnell and Knights teammates Marvin Filipo and Josh Mantellato are in the NSW Cup representative team to play Queensland Residents in the curtain-raiser to the State of Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night.
The NSW Cup team will be coached by Knights NSW Cup coach Rip Taylor.