Luckless Newcastle hooker Slade Griffin is set to be handed a pseudo wrestling coach role at the Knights to help turn around the club’s horrendous defensive record following revelations he is considered next to no hopeof playing in the NRL next season.
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Griffin’s chances of an on-field comeback in 2019 rest on the timing and success of a second operation to repair a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

It is his fourth major knee surgery and there are no guarantees about his long term playing prospects.

But even if everything was to goto plan,Knights coach Nathan Brown believesit will be too big of an ask to expect Griffin to feature in the top grade next season..

“He has to see hisspecialist and if everything is really good healing-wise from his first operation, you’d expect with his next operation, if that goes well, he may play very late in the season,” Brown said.

“But I’d suggest it wouldn’t be in the NRL. He’d be aiming to have a few games at the back end in reserve grade.

“Even that would hingeon him beingright to have the second operation straight away. If it hasn’t healed enough and he has got to wait another month or two, he’ll be struggling to even get back at all next year.”

But while Griffin’splaying future may be under a cloud, Brown is planning to at least utilise his defensive expertise as he formulates a plan to tryand improve the club’s diabolicaldefence.

In the three seasons Brown has been at the helm during the club’s dramatic roster re-build, the Knights have conceded a staggering 2055 points, well over 1000 points more than the Melbourne Storm have given up over the same period.

While theteam progressed in a lost of areas last season and finished a creditable 11thon the premiership ladder, they were still the second worst defensive side in the competition and it is the one area where a vast improvement is needed and is achievable.

Slade Griffin

Brown has reacted by bringing in a new assistant coach in current Tongan coach Kristian Woolf to overhaultheside’s defensive structures while NSW Cup coach Rory Kostjasyn and Griffin will also have a hands-on rolewith the top squad.

Brown confirmed Griffin will be charge of the club’s ruck defence and wrestle while he rehabs from his knee reconstruction.

The new job has the potential to provide him with a career lifeline with his current contract set to expire at the end of next season.

Asked about his chances of earning a new contract given the injury, Brown said:

“Slade willdo the ruck defence and wrestle and do his rehab and see how everything goes andsee how it all works out,” Brown said.

“When Slade was at the Storm, theyconsidered himtheir best ruck defenderand technically, their bestwrestlerand he was very clearlyour best by a country mile so there is a potential lifeline there for him.

“The key for us is we want him to teach a few other guys how to do it effectively because it’s obviously an area where we have to get more proficient.

“I think everyone would agree if we are to take ourselves to a new level next season, we have to be a whole lot better defensively and clearly, it needs to be a real focus for us in the pre-season.”

READ MORE: Newcastle KnightsNew defensive staffis not the only significant change toa revamped football department that has been boosted with the addition ofmore resources by owners Wests.

The club’s dramatic injury toll last season has resulted in a major overhaul of the Knights’high performance unit with former Warriors staffer Balin Cupples to head a beefed-up department.

“We have a lot of new staff,”Brown said.

“Balin hascome inwith three to work under him and we havea new physioso there will be a lot of new faces around.

“There is certainly a real buzz around the place.”