Knights enforcer Mitch Barnett's days as an edge backrower appear numbered following an "honest" conversation with coach Adam O'Brien.
While his versatility will mean he remains an option to play on an edge, O'Brien believes Barnett is much better value to his squad as a middle forward and his performance in last weekend's trial against St George Illawarra backed up the coach's belief.
His aggression in defence and ability and skill at off-loading in traffic is why O'Brien rates the dual Danny Buderus Medalist so highly.
Even with backrower Sione Mata'utia out for up to six weeks with knee medial ligament damage, O'Brien has resisted the temptation to move Barnett from lock and bring experienced Queensland Origin middle forward Tim Glasby into the starting side for Saturday night's trial against the Sydney Roosters in Gosford.
Instead, he has left Barnett in the middle and named veteran Aidan Guerra as Mata'utia's replacement on the right edge. A good performance from Guerra will almost certainly see the 32-year-old retain his starting spot for the NRL premiership-opener against the Warriors in a fortnight.
Barnett is the first to admit his preference is to play as an edge backrower but totally understands where the coach is coming from.
"I guess I grew up playing on the edge and it's just where I feel a bit more comfortable I suppose," he said.
"But Adsy [O'Brien] has been nothing but honest with me. He sort of sat me down and told me he prefers me as a middle player and the more I play there, the more comfortable I'll get.
"The middle is probably where I get to show my aggressive side a bit more and I think that's why Adsy is doing it because he likes that side of my game.
"I'm actually enjoying it and he's giving me a bit of freedom to play a bit of footy as well.
"If we get our defence right, hopefully the couple of off-loads against the Dragons, we'll see more of those during the season.
"It was really good playing behind big Klem [David Klemmer] and DSaf [Daniel Saifiti] against the Dragons because they got us on the front foot and the ruck speed was so good."
Barnett, who only played the opening 20 minutes against St George Illawarra, said a trimmed down squad will be looking to build on the Dragons trial when they take on the Roosters, admitting the second half blowout in the 38-12 defeat was a good lesson for the Knights' younger players.
"I think their [Dragons] young fellas played a bit harder than ours," he said.
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