Refreshed and feeling fit after three weeks on the sideline, Knights prop Willie Mason has vowed to lead from the front in Monday night's crucial clash against Manly at Brookvale Oval.
Speaking after training on Wednesday, Mason said he was pumped at the prospect of taking on an experienced Sea Eagles outfit containing representative stars like Anthony Watmough, Brett Stewart and Daly Cherry-Evans.
The veteran bookend knows Manly will be hard to beat at home, but insists his side are ready for the challenge.
"It’s been a three-week break now and the body does feel good," Mason said in reference to his return from suspension.
"It does suck being suspended, but you get an opportunity to heal all of those little niggling injuries.
"I suppose being 34 and around the game for a while, you take any break as a positive.
"So I’m looking forward to getting out there and contributing as much as I can.
"Manly’s forward pack are renowned to be tough and they are just relentless.
"As a forward leader in my team, I’ve got to be putting my hand up to try and go against their forward pack. I’m looking forward to it.
"Brookvale is a hard place to win and there is a rivalry there, so we are going to live up to it."
Mason concedes his side dished up a below-par performance against Penrith, but the side is fully focused on redeeming themselves against Manly.
He admits several individuals struggled against the Panthers and are keen as ever to hit back this weekend as the Knights look to salvage their season.
"As a team and as a representative for the Knights, you can’t believe what we dished up against Penrith," he says.
"Some of our players that are making mistakes, don’t usually make mistakes in a game.
"It’s hard to put a finger on, but hopefully everyone is accountable for their own mistakes and just play as a team.
"We haven’t put a wholehearted 80-minute effort in all year, so it will be a good time."
The Knights will face a Sea Eagles side missing key stars Jamie Lyon, Glenn Stewart and Kieran Foran, but Mason believes their absence will mean little come game day.
"Manly has had their fair share of injuries as well and every team does," he says.
"So we can’t use that as an excuse or anything off the field as any excuse for us putting in what we did on the weekend.
"That’s 17 players dishing out garbage.
"We are better than that and we know that we can play better, so we are looking forward to Monday night against Manly.
"They are massive opposition. They have been one of the top teams for the last eight years, especially at Brookvale I don’t think we’ve won down there for ages.
"So it will be good to get a win.
"It’s Round 10 this week and it’s only early in the year, but we need to start making a run now because we are going to leave it too late."
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