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Brown confident new partnership will fire

PRIMED: Trent Hodkinson will partner Jarrod Mullen in the Knights halves for the first time against the Gold Coast on Sunday. Picture: Jonathan CarrollNATHAN Brown has no doubts that Jarrod Mullen and Trent Hodkinson will hit it off.
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If it’s not against the Gold CoastTitans in round one,it will be down the track.

Many pundits believe the Knights chances will hinge on the star halves and how well theycombine.A club-imposed ban on Mullen sidelined the five-eighth from the 34-28 trial loss to Canberra.The up-shot is that Sundaywill be their first game in tandem.

The theory is that with Hodkinson predominantlyplaying first-receiverit will freeMullen to unleash his running game wider of the ruck.

“They have trained well enough together,” Brown said. “All this stuff about combinations and all that. Last year [at the Broncos]Ben Hunt and AnthonyMilford hadn’t played together and I didn’t see too many people at the end of the year worried about their combination. They lost the first game and then won a heap in arow. We can make an excuses and have a song and dance, but at the end of the day they have a job to do.If they do it well they will work well with each other.”

Hodkinson will on Sunday play opposite the man he replaced in Newcastle, Tyrone Roberts, who will partneremerging star Ashley Taylor.

“Watching the Titanslast year from the outside, they were one of the better attacking teams in the comp,” Brown said. “Unfortnately for them, young KaneElgey has hurt his leg and they lost AidenSezer (Canberra)and James Roberts (Broncos). The halves they have brought in; Tyrone Roberts is obviously well known around here, and young Ashley Taylor is a highly regarded playerfrom the under-20s who was wanted by a number of clubs. I’m sure the attacking side of the game for them is going to be hard to stop but I don’t think any side is going to be perfect in round one.”

Roberts had defensive issues at the Knights and was often a target for opposition back-rowers. As well as test the diminutive play-maker defensively, the heavy workload was aimed at blunting his attack.

“I don’t think there are any smaller players in the competition who don’t have bigger people running at him,” Brown said. “It doesn’t matter who the coach is or the opposition. I don’t think it will be any different for our halves as it will be for their halves.”

Like the Knights, the Titans have had a big turnover in personnel. In their main trial they finished strongly, scoring a late try, only to go down 22-20 to South Sydney.

“​For us at the moment –obviously we will have a small look at theGold Coast –it’s more about us getting our systems and what we want to do right,” Brown said.

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