It's been an emotional time for everyone at the Newcastle Knights, but winger James McManus insists the players remain focused on maintaining their form whilst honouring injured teammate Alex McKinnon in style.
Speaking after training on Wednesday, McManus admitted it's been an extremely tough time at the Club.
As difficult as the past ten days has been though, he says the team has returned from a two day break feeling refreshed and ready for their round 5 clash against North Queensland in Townsville on Monday night.
"It’s a hard week and we got through it and it’s going to be a hard year, but we’ve just got to keep pushing through it," McManus says.
"It was a tough week to be a part of, but to have all the support there and just the way the game was set-up with all that support for Alex, it did make it a really emotional time.
"There wasn’t a dry eye in the huddle at the start of that game and to see all the Cronulla players all up and clapping together as well as the crowd.
"So it was a good game to be a part of and a good situation with all three grades winning, so it just ended up being a good day.
"It probably took a little bit out of everyone emotionally last week.
"We had a couple of days off just to get away from things a little bit and everyone has come to training today with a really great attitude and training really well.
"Now I think we’ve just got to get on with it."
While the Knights are looking to push forward as a team, McManus says they'll always have McKinnon in the back of their minds.
As coach Wayne Bennett said after the win over Cronulla, Sunday's match for Alex wasn't a one-off event and everyone will need to continue their support well into the future.
McManus agrees and says the team are mindful of playing with the type of spirit that would make McKinnon proud.
"Well that’s it, it’s every week now," he says about playing for McKinnon.
"It’s a long season and it’s not going to go away.
"So we’ve still got a job to do, but we’ll always be thinking of him and have him there with us.
"That’s the way it’s going to be.
"Eventually when his situation gets to that point when we can go and see him.
"I don’t even know if I’ll go and talk to him about footy.
"He is obviously doing it tough and we just want to be a mate for him.
"That’s something we can do. He is a part of our squad and the better we do, the better it’s going to be."
McManus praised the Newcastle community for playing their part with support for McKinnon and his family.
He admits it hasn't gone unnoticed by the playing group.
"It’s certainly one thing about Newcastle, is the town stays tight and they look after their own," he says.
"It was great to see the 18,000 there really respond and everyone was decked out in red-and-blue with plenty of signs and things like that.
"It must have really helped his family out a little bit in the situation that they are going through.
"It was certainly great to see."
Newcastle face a tough task against North Queensland at home on Monday night, but McManus agrees the away trip will be good for the team.
"We are a close bunch of blokes and that’s probably what has made it such an emotional week," he says.
"We always love going away with each other, so it will be good to go up there.
"We’ve got a job to do again this week and it will be on again the week after that.
"It’s not going to be an easy trip up to Townsville, but it will be good to get away and get the points again."
Unfortunately the team won't train in Townsville this weekend. The team looks forward to seeing Members and supporters at 1300SMILES Stadium on Monday night.