Knights coach Nathan Brown has dismissed suggestions Brock Lamb’s selection on the bench for Friday night’s clash against Manly is a sign of a lack of confidence in Connor Watson.
Lamb has won a bench spot at the expense of a desperately unlucky Danny Levi, who finds himself playing NSW Cup just a few months after representing New Zealand in the World Cup.
Jacob Saifiti also missed selection in the squad of 17 for the season-opener at McDonald Jones Stadium with Brown, as expected, naming nine new recruits in his lineup.
Brown said the decision to select Lamb rather than go in against the Eagles with two specialist hookers was one of the toughest he has made as a coach.
But he claims it was all about wanting some outside back injury insurance and had nothing to do with any lack of confidence in Watson handling the five-eighth role outside skipper Mitchell Pearce .
“If that was the case, we would have just put Brock there,”Brown said.
"We have got confidence in Connor and as I have always said, when you compare Connor with Brock, you are not comparing apples with apples because they are very different players.
"It's all to do with versatility. Just with our team, it's a no-brainer to have Connor as the moveable piece.”
Brown is confident Lamb’s presence will not play on Watson’s mind leading into the Manly game.
“He’s comfortable with it,”he said.
"When we explaned it to him why, I think Connor knows we have confidence in him. And the faith we showed in him last year, I'd like to think Brock thinks we have confidence in him as well.
"If you talk to Mitchell [Pearce], he loves what Brock brings to the table and he loves what Connor brings to the table.”
Brown admitted Levi can count himself unlucky to miss out.
Once it was decided Lamb was needed on the bench, it became a head-to-head battle between Levi and Slade Griffin for the starting hooker role with the former Melbourne Storm utility winning out.
"That was probably a tough call on Danny to be fair,” Brown said.
“He's disappointed and not happy about it but he has handled it well. It's not to do with form.
“In both the games we played, Slade and Danny working together, we thought, was a good combination but with Sione [Mata'utia] back in the centres and Joe Wardle getting homesick, we don't have a lot of scope for movement in our team.
"Connor's our best moveable piece.”