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Jarrod Mullen no certainty for Warriors game

BRETT KEEBLE
Last updated 07:45 15/08/2014
Jarrod Mullen
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IN DOUBT: Jarrod Mullen, left, is no certainty to take the field against the Warriors on Sunday.

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Knights five-eighth Jarrod Mullen is cautiously optimistic about returning against the Warriors at Hunter Stadium on Sunday but needs to complete training today to be certain.

Mullen has missed two games due to a torn abdominal muscle he suffered in the first half of a 16-12 win over the Roosters three weeks ago.

The 27-year-old Country Origin playmaker was at the same stage of recovery this time last week but struggled at the team's final training session and was a late withdrawal from the game against Melbourne last weekend.

If Mullen pulls out, captain Kurt Gidley would again switch to five-eighth and rookie Sione Mata'utia would be recalled from the National Youth Cup to play fullback.

Back-rower Robbie Rochow has been cleared to take his place after passing several post-concussion neurological tests this week.

He was assessed by clinical neuropsychologist Dr Andrew Gardner, from the University of Newcastle, after full-time last weekend then passed the CogSport test this week.

Rochow said he felt ''a little bit dazed'' after being struck in the temple.

''I think I probably could have played on but Phil [Coles], our physio, got to me straight away and said, 'No, it's not worth it,' so I came off,'' he said.

Rochow said the Knights wanted to enjoy themselves in the final four games of the season but had to control the ball in their own half, as they did in wins over the Storm and Roosters.

The Warriors won 38-18 when they met in Auckland on June 1 and have won seven of the past eight games between the two teams, including the past two meetings at Hunter Stadium.

''They're playing well,'' Rochow said of Newcastle's opponents.

''They've always got a big forward pack, and with Sam Tomkins and Shaun Johnson, there's a lot of agility and a lot of speed that they play with now, so we've got a big job in slowing them down.

''There will be a big emphasis on completing our sets coming out of yardage as well, but we're going to try a few plays and see what we can do. That's what we want to do - we want to have a bit of fun at the moment. But we're not going to play like the Warriors. We're going to play like us.''

Meanwhile, off-contract hooker Travis Waddell is uncertain about his future beyond this season.

The four-time Indigenous All Stars representative is coming to the end of the two-year deal he signed on the eve of last season, when the Knights edged out the Warriors for his services.

''I was going to go there about two years ago, so it will be be good to play against them. They're a tough team,'' the 25-year-old former Raiders rake said.

Waddell conjured up the play of the game against Melbourne on Saturday, stealing the ball from Storm fullback Billy Slater to cut the deficit to four points with two minutes remaining.

''I was just going in to tackle him because I always knew he was going to run it ... and I ended up with the ball and scoring a try,'' said Waddell, who disagreed with Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy's assessment that he was offside at second marker.

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''I haven't even watched it but I don't reckon I was. 

''I knew he was going to run it so I just rushed him and ended up with the ball in my hand.

''It was a great moment for me, and it was probably one of the best games that I've played in, too, especially for a comeback and a win like that.''

- Newcastle Herald

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