Rivalry Round motivates McKinnon
Wednesday 11 July 2012 11:56 AM
Hunter Ports Newcastle Knights forward Alex McKinnon knows this Saturday’s Rivalry Round clash against the Sea Eagles will involve plenty of fireworks, as the Novocastrians set themselves for a late run towards the finals.
McKinnon, who played 49 minutes against the Rabbitohs last weekend, believes a win against the defending premiers would be the perfect start to their finals run, with a loss not an option at this stage of the season.
“We had two wins in a row and then let slip last week... winning is very important for us at the moment,” McKinnon said on Tuesday.
"We hit a bit of speed hump [the loss to Souths] in our run home, so we cant afford any more losses."
Rivalry Round always has the ability to spark emotions, and the the Knights v Sea Eagles battle is no different. The heated competition between the clubs has intensified in recent years, with McKinnon saying his men will channel the passion displayed by both sides in the 1997 Grand Final.
“I never liked Manly as a kid, I don't know why," he said.
"I guess ever since that grand final it [the rivalry] has meant a lot to both clubs.
"People around the club often talk about how important it is to beat Manly, and if it’s important to them it’s important to us.
“I guess this week just has that extra bit of feeling to it, you never want to lose, but even more so this week.”
In saying that, McKinnon knows beating the Sea Eagles will be no easy task, after the Manly club demolished the Eels in Round 18.
“They’ve got a great pack, even without the Stewart brothers, they are still a quality team all over the park really, we’ll have to be on top of our game," he said.
“We’ve spoken a lot about stepping up and matching sides up front, and I think that’s going to be the case this week.
“Our aim is to match the Manly side up front, if we do that, it will go a long way towards a victory for the side.”
The Hunter Ports Newcastle Knights will take on the Manly Sea Eagles at Hunter Stadium on Saturday with kick-off at 5:30pm.
When you think of Rivalry Round, is there a better team to be playing than Manly? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.