Willie Mason always knew life without Darius Boyd and Jarrod Mullen was never going to be easy for the Knights.
With over a decade of experience in the NRL, Mason fully understands how important key playmakers are to the success of a football team.
So when you take out the Club's two best players in Boyd and Mullen due to injury, it’s a tough task for recruits Michael Dobson and Matt Minto to come in and dominate from the onset.
Mason knows this and it's why he has called on his team to rally around Dobson and Minto to give the pair some much needed confidence heading into next Monday's vital clash against the Storm in Melbourne.
"To lose those two (Mullen and Boyd) within the first round is heartbreaking really," Mason said after recovery on Monday.
"If you take any two key players out of any side they are going to struggle.
"Mullo and Darbs control our team and they dictate a lot of our points.
"Mullo is a great player and so is Darbs. Darbs is a current Australian and Origin player and Mullo played arguably his best football last year.
"We’ve got the depth, but these guys just have to keep on improving.
"We also have to have faith in them and build around them.
"Because fullback and five-eighth, well it’s not like you are replacing forwards.
"You are replacing arguably the best in their positions and they have to step up to the plate."
Asked about Sunday's 26-20 loss against Canberra at Hunter Stadium, Mason admitted crucial errors in defence cost the Knights.
The veteran forward believes his side put in plenty of effort though and must use that as motivation going forward.
"We put a lot of effort in and worked hard all week, but it was just one of those games and things just didn’t go our way and it cost us the game," he says frankly.
"We worked pretty hard on our discipline and ball control all week that we didn’t do quite well against Penrith.
"We also seemed to get penalised a fair bit last night.
"There were a few 50/50 calls that just weren’t going our way and if they did we’d probably end up with two points.
"We’ll look at the tape tomorrow, review it and then just get over it and start building into the Melbourne game.
"We can’t fault the guys effort, so we’ll just keep building."
For the Knights this starts with a blockbuster clash against the Storm in Melbourne next Monday night, a match of major importance according to Mason.
"You look at the rounds and every single game and there is no easy game," he says.
"You’ve got to turn up week after week for 26 rounds and anyone can win the comp.
"So it’s important we get over that Canberra loss and start building to Melbourne."
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