Knights coach Adam O'Brien could be looking for two new centres this week with Bradman Best battling an ankle injury and Tautau Moga facing the axe after Newcastle's ninth consecutive loss to the Melbourne Storm yesterday.
Not even the club's crippling injury toll, which looks to have claimed Best as it's latest victim, will save Moga after his poor defence directly led to two Storm tries in their 26-16 win on the Sunshine Coast.
Moga didn't lay a hand on Storm edge forward Kenny Bromwich when he strolled through to put Cameron Smith over for a controversial first half try that looked to have come from a forward pass while the big centre also came up with a half-hearted effort to stop Tino Faasuamaleaui before he raced away to score Melbourne's final try.
With Gehamat Shibasaki waiting for another opportunity, it's difficult to see O'Brien sticking with Moga moving forward, with the big centre clearly struggling with his lateral movement after four knee reconstructions.
If Best, who showed plenty of ticker to hobble around and stay out there for the entire second half despite an ankle injury, is ruled out following scans, it will open the door for winger Starford To'a to play his first NRL game of the season against the Wests Tigers on Saturday with Enari Tuala likely to return to the centres.
The Knights could also be down an interchange forward with Pasami Saulo on report for a dangerous tackle on Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes.
After conceding early, the Knights were always chasing the game but fought hard against the odds for the full 80 minutes, leaving O'Brien a far more satisfied coach than he was after the Bulldogs loss a week earlier.
Aside from having eight players unavailable going into the game, the Knights lost hooker Chris Randall and backrower Lachlan Fitzgibbon before halftime to concussion, a case of friendly fire with the pair clashing heads in a tackle gone wrong. Neither returned for the second half.
That cost O'Brien two interchanges, leaving only three for the final 40 minutes with just two players left on the bench. Newcastle was also forced to play with 12 players for 10 minutes after the break when Saulo was sin binned and concussed for his tackle on Hughes.
Despite the defeat, which leaves the Knights clinging to seventh spot, there was no question the effort that was missing against the Bulldogs was there in spades against Melbourne.
Mitch Barnett and David Klemmer were relentless in the forwards while the back three of Kalyn Ponga, Tuala and Hymel Hunt couldn't have done much more.
Skipper Mitchell Pearce also tried his heart out, Kurt Mann was strong again and rookie Phoenix Crossland was sharp out of dummy half when thrown into the game.
The Knights ultimately paid the price for several lapses that saw them lose some big moments in the game while the side's attacking kicking game and end to sets remains a problem O'Brien must solve if the team is to make the finals.
Ponga came up with a nothing kick on the last in the first half which resulted in Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen running 85 metres to score while Pearce, aside from one second half short kick that produced a goal-line restart, again struggled to get the ball where it needed to be to pressure Melbourne on final tackles.
Despite failing his HIA, Randall will be confident of passing the concussion protocols this week to play against the Tigers. But the Knights must be seriously looking at potentially bringing in another hooking option with still eight games left before the finals.
it's difficult to see O'Brien sticking with Moga moving forward,