Dane Gagai believes the confidence gained from the Newcastle Knights’ win against the Sydney Roosters will be valuable coming into Sunday’s match against the Rabbitohs in Cairns.
“It was a great effort from all of the boys, especially the two debutants (Sione and Chanel Mata'utia), they really stood up,” he told the media on Tuesday morning.
“They didn’t seem out of place at all and there were a couple of times they helped me out and saved me.
“Everyone stood up for each other and it was great to get the win.”
The young centre was thrown the challenge of moving into the halves when Jarrod Mullen was unable to return in the second half due to an abdominal strain.
“Jarrod’s a pretty strong, dominant player and loosing him was definitely a big blow for us," Gagai said.
“It was obviously a little bit daunting because I haven’t trained there, but that comes with the job.
“If the team needs you, you just have to step up.
“I made sure I was just trying to do my best for the team."
The win provided the team a timely lift after the Knights Round 19 loss against the Gold Coast Titans.
“The mood in the shed was unbelievable, everyone was enjoying footy again and it gave us something to move forward on," Gagai said.
“We’ve had a rough run this year, but to get that win on the weekend was a big confidence booster for us."
The 23-year-old was particularly impressed by Sione Mata'utia's form on debut and ability to remain unfazed by the big occasion.
“He slipped over, and it could have happened to anyone, but to happen on your debut, people can fall apart,” he said.
“But the next play he made was a big one.
“Sione and Chanel did really well and can hopefully back it up again this weekend."
He also looks forward to seeing more from Tyrone Roberts this weekend after his stand-out game on Friday.
“Tyrone really stood up and took on the duty of leading us around the park and he played outstandingly," he said.
“It’s good to know we have someone in our team who can step up for us and just lift the whole team.
“We’ve seen it throughout the years that he performs his best when he’s just playing confidently and backing himself, and he did that on the weekend.
“If he can do that every week, it will be a pretty good combination when Mullen is on."
The Mackay junior will feel at home on Sunday when the team heads to Cairns to play the Rabbitohs and expects plenty of his family from Far North Queensland to make the trip to the game.