NRL DRAWKnights favoured by a host of early season home games as they bid to break their finals drought in 2019

Jubilation: A scene Knights fans will be hoping they see a lot more of in 2019 with the club handed a host of early season home games to kick off the season. Picture: AAP.

Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown says a glut of earlyhome games next season will give his side the perfect chance to “jump out of the blocks” in their bid to finally break their finals drought in 2019.

The NRL released its draw for nextseason yesterday with the Knights set to playfive of their openingseven games at McDonald Jones Stadium.

While three of their first four are against top eight sides from last season, Brown admitted the prospect of playing in front of packed houses in Newcastle early on should give his side plenty of confidence.

“We are going to need to jump out of the blocks from the get-gobut having so many home games early on certainly gives us the chance to make a real solid start,”Brown said.

“The draw is never going to be perfect for any team and we are all going to face obstacles at various stages. But overall, we are pretty happy.

“There is only the one five day turnaround which is a plus for us and now that it[the draw] is out, we can start doing some real planningaround it.”

As expected, new recruits and former Cronullaplayers Jesse Ramien and Edrick Lee won’t have long to wait to take on their old club with the Knights to face the Sharks in the opening round on March 15.

The game is one of only two Friday 6 pm matches the Knights will play at McDonald Jones Stadium. The other is in round 19 against the Tigers on July 26.

The Sharks’ clash shapes as a real litmus test for the Knights first up.

Cronulla has become a bogey side in recent years, winning their past eight straight against the Knights, many of them convincingly.

Newcastle will feature in four Channel Nine free-to-air matches, three of them at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The first is against the Parramatta Eels in round 7on Sunday, April 28 followed by Friday night clashes against the Sydney Roosters [Rd 11-May 24] and the Bulldogs [Rd 17-July 12].

Their final round game against Penrith at Panthers Stadium will also be a Channel Nine game on Sunday, September 18.

Anyone’s guess how the Knights will perform in 2019 –Robert DillonToohey’s News –Injured Knights star’s rapid improvementNathan Ross’s clouded future at the KnightsAs predicted, McDonald Jones Stadium will host just two Sunday games next season –a 6.10 pm clash against the Dragons in round 4 on April 7 and the Parramatta Eels’ round 7 game.

Old Boys Day will be celebrated inround 24 on Saturday, August 31 with the clash against the Gold Coast Titans.

After taking on the Wests Tigers in Tamworth last season, the Knights will again be heading to the bush for a premiership match.

St George Illawarra will host the Knights in Mudgee in round 10 on Sunday, May 19 while their Magic Round opponent at Suncorp Stadium will be the Bulldogs on Saturday, May 11.

The Knights toughest stretch will be a four game block from round 8 to 11 when they meet the Warriors, Bulldogs and Dragons away before facing a five day turnaround into the Sydney Roosters on May 24.