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Newcastle winger James McManus knows the Knights need to get tougher following their disappointing loss against the Penrith Panthers on Sunday. 

Speaking after the mistake-riddled 32-10 defeat, a frustrated McManus conceded his side were outplayed by the Panthers in the toughness stakes.

It's a reality the flying Scotsman insists the Knights must face and then work overtime to ensure it changes when they take on Manly at Brookvale Oval next Monday night.    

"We’ve all just got to pick ourselves up and be tougher," McManus says frankly.

"Winning starts on Monday and it doesn’t get any easier than Manly down at Brookie.

"But it’s a long season and we’ve just got to get on with it.

"It was a tough day at the office against Penrith and a bit embarrassing really.

"They just played tougher than we did in terms of the arm wrestle.

"We were the ones that would start to build pressure and then we’d cough up the ball or give away a penalty.

"You just can’t win the arm wrestle when you do things like that.

"They just played tougher than we did and we have to change that."

On a positive note, McManus was impressed by the performances of NRL debutants Joseph Tapine and Pat Vaivai. 

"I thought they were good coming up," he says.

"It was tough conditions to debut on in a tough game, but I thought they did great.

"Joe is certainly going to be a star of the future. He is a big tough guy and he is kind of built a bit like (Steve Simpson) Simmo and hopefully he gets plenty more starts to come."