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Chris Houston vs Panthers Round 1

When it comes to picking his moment to motivate, Wayne Bennett has proven himself to be the master over the years.

From getting St George Illawarra to believe they could win in September through to his unique ability in helping under performing individuals, the veteran mentor knows the perfect time to strike with some words of wisdom.  

It's the same at the Newcastle Knights.

So when his team had one of their best training sessions on Tuesday with a number of star players sitting on the sidelines, Bennett jumped at the opportunity to inspire them. 

Just ask forward Chris Houston, who says the strong effort at training has the entire squad buzzing heading into Sunday's first home game of 2014 against the Canberra Raiders.         

"We had a good session and we probably had five or six of our top guys missing out in the field, but we had one of our best training sessions," Houston said.

“Wayne sort of reinforced that to us out there and hopefully we can get a bit of confidence out of our sessions and take it into the weekend’s game.

"Everyone is pretty disappointed with the (Panthers) game.

"We trained hard in the off-season and you never want your first game to go down that way.

"But it did, so everyone was keen to get back here and rectify it and we put in a good session.

"So hopefully we can bounce back for our first home game."

Newcastle will have to beat Canberra without star fullback Darius Boyd, who is expected to be sidelined for two to three weeks after suffering a low-grade two hamstring tear against Penrith last Saturday. 

On a positive note, Kurt Gidley and Tyrone Roberts have been named to take on the Raiders despite the pair suffering concussion against the Panthers.

Houston believes the additions of Gidley and Roberts is a huge boost for the team.  

"We’ve got a lot of depth in our squad now," he says.

"Darbs is a world-class player and we are going to miss him, but we’ll shuffle the line-up a bit and I think we’ll do all right.

"Injuries are a part of the game and looking at round one we had Darbs injured, but the other two blokes just got head knocks.

"That’s a part of the game and I think those two will be fine, so we only really got one injury out of the weekend.

"So it’s not as bad as it probably seems."

Houston says he can't wait to play on home turf this weekend, hopefully in front of a strong home crowd. 

"We had some good turnouts at Hunter Stadium at the backend of last year, especially when we were playing well," he says.

"So it will be great to have another good turnout on Sunday."