The Newcastle Knights may be experiencing a lull in the winning streak that kick-started the season, but coach Rick Stone believes it’s still early days and there’s plenty of time to reignite the side's strong form.
“I’ve been really disappointed in the way we’ve played the last couple of weeks, that’s fair to say, but at the same time, I know you’re not going to just cruise along and win consistently,” Stone told the media on Tuesday.
“It’s the up and down nature of the competition."
After invoking four determined victories to start of the season, the Knights have recently fallen to the St George Illawarra Dragons and Cronulla Sharks in trying playing conditions.
“Generally you see in sides that need to win the most are the teams that are winning the games that people have not expected them to win,” Stone added.
“Look at the Sharks and Saints a couple of weeks ago and look at the Cowboys who were zero and three to start the season and look at the desperation that losing brings.
“It gradually builds up. Just like every win makes you a little bit softer in the head, every loss makes you a little bit hungrier to see who can do a bit better next week.
“We aren’t the only team in the NRL who have had a couple of losses in the last few weeks.
“It’s a tough competition and you have to believe in yourself and your principles and have to dust yourself off and go the next week.”
As the Knights prepare for their next encounter against the Parramatta Eels on Sunday, Stone assures the side is aware of the improvements that need to be made.
“I’d like to think we’d get a response. We haven’t really played well enough in attack to give ourselves a chance and haven’t had 50 per cent of the ball in any of our six games, which makes it hard,” he said.
“Considering we are still ranked third on the table as far as points conceded this year, that’s a credible effort.
“Unless we ask more questions and challenge the opposition defence we are not going to win enough games. It’s all about hard work.
“We haven’t played well in the last two weeks and haven’t given ourselves a chance with the way we’ve played in attack and the amount of possession we’ve given away.
“I thought we tries pretty hard in the second half, but when you only get 36 per cent of the possession in the first half, your energy levels are down and it’s hard to come back form that stat."
Stone confirmed five-eighth Jarrod Mullen and Tariq Sims were rested from training on Tuesday due to grade one AC joint injuries.
“Generally they will settle down later in the week and you’d expect to see them back out on the training paddock by Thursday," he said.
Second rower Robbie Rochow will miss this Sunday’s match after being referred back to a specialist for a back injury.