Newcastle Jets coach Ernie Merrick and Knights coach Nathan Brown have struck up a friendship after meeting recently for coffee.


SWAPPING NOTES: Ernie Merrick and Nathan Brown share a joke at McDonald Jones Stadium on Thursday. Picture: Jonathan CarrollERNIE Merrick will spend the next two nights at McDonald Jones Stadium. He’d like to think you will, too.

On Friday, the Newcastle Jets coach will be on the sideline as his high-flying but out-of-sorts team strive to bounce back and show their true colours against a desperate Perth Glory.

Barely 24 hours later, he will be a face in the crowd cheering onNewcastle’s other footballing flagship, the Knights, when they go head to head with Brisbane Broncos.

“The Jets on Friday night, the Knights on Saturday,” Merrick said.

“I’ll be here on Saturday.

“The more success we have, it’s good for the town, it’s good for the region and it’s great for the kids that aspire to play either game.

“We’re not competing with each other …the more success both teamscan have, the better for everyone.”

Merrick and his Knights counterpart, Nathan Brown, have formed a friendship after catching up recently for coffee, a meeting that gave them a chance to compare and contrast subjects such as training techniques, roster management and developing young talent.

Their codes might be vastly different but the two coaches have one thing in common. Both took over Newcastle teams that were at a low ebb and were entrusted with the task of rebuilding them from the ground up.

Both are still a work in progress, butBrown said thethe Jets’ success in climbing from wooden spooners last season to second position under Merrick had provided a source of inspiration.

“There’s no doubt that’s where we want to get to,” Brownsaid.

“The difference, I suppose, between rugby league and football is they have a world pool to pick from, whereas in rugby league we have a much smaller pool of players, and our process is very, very different.

“But what the Jets have done is exactly what we want to do.

“You want to be a top-four team. That’s your goal.

“If you can be a top-four team consistently, you hopefully get to play in a grand final or two. And that’s what the Knights did back when they won those two comps, all those years ago.”

Both Brown and Merrick were hopeful the Novocastrian faithful would turn out in strong numbers, just as they did last month when, in successive weeks, 18,156 cheered the Jets to a 2-1 win against Sydney FC, and then 23,516 celebrated the Knights’ season-opening 19-18 win against Manly.

“This is a terrificsports city,” Merrick said. “It’s got a great history in rugby league and football.”

Both coaches have benefited from outside expertise throughout their careers. They share a mutual friend in Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy, who helped introduce them.

”Wherever I’ve gone, I’ve linked up with other coaches and shared so much good information,’’ Merrick said.

Brown said he would beunable to attend Friday night’s game, because of a prior engagement, but he hoped to be in the crowd when the Jets host their do-or-die semi-final on the weekend of April 27-29.

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