NRL | "Bite down on the mouth-guard, wind up and run hard" - Jacob Lillyman's simple blue-print for Knights success

Experience: Prop Jacob Lillyman will be a key member of the Newcastle Knights pack against the Manly Sea Eagles in the NRL season opener on Friday week at McDonald Jones Stadium. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
Experience: Prop Jacob Lillyman will be a key member of the Newcastle Knights pack against the Manly Sea Eagles in the NRL season opener on Friday week at McDonald Jones Stadium. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Jacob Lillyman knows a thing or two about winning having played in multiple State of Origin series’ triumphs for Queensland.

And he claims there is not a whole lot of science required to right the wrongs from last weekend’s trial loss to Parramatta ahead of the season-opener against Manly.

“It’s pretty basic stuff really,”the Knights prop said.

“We just have to bite down on the mouth-guard, wind up and run hard and earn the right to be able to play the sort of attacking footy we are looking to play and have trained so hard to play.”

“That’s about it in a nut-shell.”

Lillyman isn’t having a dig at anyone in particular. He says the trial loss was more a case of the Knights collectively not responding in the way that was needed to handle the power running and in-your-face pressure from the Eels.  

“It was a bit of a reality check for us. We probably thought we were going better then we were,”he said.

“We have worked a lot on playing footy – we want to use the ball and play an attacking brand. But you have to lay a foundation. You have to earn the right to use the footy a bit. Basically against the Eels, we didn’t really earn that right.

“We were playing off the back foot and they were fresh and full of beans with plenty of line speed and getting up on us and shutting us down and forcing errors.

“We have spoken a lot since the game about how we need to adjust and what we need to do differently in those circumstances and we are confident we will get that right for Manly.

“You have to be prepared to go set for set and gain that ascendancy and get some momentum through the middle of the field.

“We weren’t doing that. We were trying to shift the ball wide off the back foot and it wasn’t working and we should have made some adjustments and we didn’t. But we have done a hell of a lot of video and we’ll get it right next week.”

Lillyman is adament the issues that plagued them against the Eels are “easily fixed” and a “great lesson for us”.

“It’s a joint thing between us forwards and the halves,”he said.

“It’s hard to over-ride the halves who are calling the shots at times but it comes down to making the right decisions together and if we as a forward pack believe we need to be trying to go through the opposition a bit more, it’s up to us to relay that.

“We are a new team and the communication probably could have been better. We know now for next time and now that it’s happened and we are aware of it, it’s easily fixed.

“We still think we can play that attractive brand of footy but it’s about rolling the sleeves up first and earning the right to do that.

“We’ve got a lot of faith in the forwards we have and the power and the leg speed to go through rival teams so we just need to do that a bit more.

“The opportunities off the back of that will present themselves and we’ve got great halves and outside backs to take advantage of that against Manly.”