Newcastle has played three fast-paced matches in the stifling Auckland heat in the space of a day and a bit, but prop Willie Mason is adamant fatigue won't be a factor when the Knights take on the Broncos in a blockbuster quarter-final clash this afternoon.
The Knights' advanced through to the quarter-finals on the back of a commanding 25-0 victory over the Tigers, a win set-up on the back of the side's impressive skills and speed.
While some teams may feel the effects of the full-on schedule as the tournament continues, Mason has no doubts Newcastle will be ready to fire when they meet the Broncos from 3.30pm (1.30pm AEST).
"We trained so hard all pre-season and we play games like this (the nines) all the time," Mason says.
"Well that’s apart from the contact that is full on out here.
'But the fatigue factor won’t even come into it, because we’ve got about three games max left.
"There’s a break until our next game and the match is only 18 minutes, so we’ll be up for it.”
Five-eighth Jarrod Mullen was at his brilliant best against the Tigers, finding plenty of space in attack with his running game and vision.
Mullen says the key to the Knights' success has been ensuring they maintain a simple game plan based around hard yards up front before spreading the ball wide.
"There are few sides playing some good footy, so it’s going to be tough," Mullen says.
"But we’ll be up for it.
"We gave away a few penalties against the Sharks and handed the ball over on three or four occasions, so we just needed to complete for the full set of five.
"You see all the big boys out there with smiles on their faces and we are probably seeing a lot of things that blokes wouldn’t normally do in the normal NRL.
"So it’s showcasing some pretty good skills."
Forward Jeremy Smith is thoroughly enjoying the Auckland Nines concept, a style of football that even allows the game's big men to have a bit of fun in attack.
"The people of Auckland have really got behind it," Smith says.
"There are supporters of every team and I think they are getting their value for money out there with some entertaining footy.
"I like this format of the game.
"There are open spaces and you’ve got to work hard in defence.”