NRL 2024: Adam O’Brien slams ‘distracted’ Newcastle Knights for Bulldogs loss, David Armstrong Sydney Roosters rumours,

A frustrated Adam O’Brien has urged his “distracted” Newcastle players to switch off social media after they produced a miserable attacking performance in a 32-2 home defeat to the Bulldogs.

Following the off period, the Knights’ four-game winning streak was ended by a sloppy performance highlighted by 15 errors and a late penalty to Jacob Saifiti for an intentional headbutt on Reed Mahoney.

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Knights coach O’Brien took aim at his players after the defeat, saying: “It’s been a long time since we’ve put in a performance like that, it’s going to take some time to get over it…

“We probably need to batten down the hatches, get off social media and not read too much of what you (journalists) are going to write. Maybe we read too much beforehand about how well we were doing. Now we’re going to look inward and try to change that.”

“There were a few guys who obviously looked distracted,” he added. “We lacked a bit of creativity on the ball. It looked like a team that had had a week off.”

O’Brien began his post-game press conference by saying, “Worst, worst night. This is hard to take… I’m just very disappointed.”

“I think there was no doubt it took a lot of effort. But effort alone won’t win the game. I think in the first 20 minutes we did a damn good job of keeping them in their own half.

“A couple of our tries were disallowed and they made a few against the run of play. I think that really discouraged and frustrated us and we never got over it.”

Particularly weak was rookie fullback David Armstrong, who has been outstanding since his debut – the Knights have won four games in a row since he replaced the injured Kalyn Ponga in the number one jersey – he dropped two key kicks, was caught in a bad position on a couple of other occasions and was generally poor.

This comes after rumours emerged over the past two weeks that Armstrong could join the Sydney Roosters this season. Adam O’Brien told Newcastle-Herald He recently said the club had already offered Armstrong a contract extension to stave off the Chooks – but tonight it was said the transfer rumours may have gone to the 23-year-old’s head.

“Possibly,” O’Brien admitted. “He’s still a young guy. He’s played four games and received a lot of praise. This is all new to him.”

“There’s all the speculation, contracts and management and all that. He’s young, he’ll learn from it.”

Knights captain Jayden Brailey was also disappointed after a performance that saw scores of drenched Newcastle fans stream out of the McDonald Jones Stadium with more than ten minutes to go.

“It definitely wasn’t a nice feeling in my stomach tonight, especially here at home. It’s not good,” Brailey said.

Andrew Johns has criticized his old team for delivering a disappointing performance in front of a large home crowd.

“Look at the weather, look at the people sitting outside in the rain worrying about this?” Johns said on Nine.

“Hang your heads in shame.

“They can sit at home and watch it live and for free on TV, and they show up and show their fans this?

“The Bulldogs, two players in the penalty box and they didn’t score a try, the Knights. It didn’t look like they were going to score.”

Johns urged the Knights to use Will Pryce in the next game after Jackson Hastings and Jack Cogger put in a poor performance in the half.

“They have to pull the trigger next week … they have to make a decision because Cogger and also Hastings have not shown the necessary speed in their game,” Johns said.

“There is no power or running threat and all movements and passes are sideways.

“They need to bring in Will Pryce next week. He may have deficiencies in his game, but they need to do something.”

Originally published as ‘Get off social media’: O’Brien slams ‘distracted’ Knights as rookie flops amid Roosters links

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