The Newcastle Knights finalised preparations for Sunday’s match against the Parramatta Eels with a training session at Wests Mayfield on Saturday.
After naming an 18-man squad on Tuesday, it was confirmed youngster Sione Mata’utia will drop off the extended bench this week.
“Sione is going to play NSW Cup this week, it is just about a better balance for the team at the moment,” five-eighth Jarrod Mullen said on Saturday.
“Sione has been playing tremendous for us and he took it like the champ he is.
“He is a really good kid on the way up, he took it on the chin and I am sure he will be back in the team in no time.”
It means Tyler Randell, who played in NSW Cup last weekend after dropping off the extended bench, returns to the side.
“It is another big man on the bench, Parramatta have a physical pack, and it's speed around the ruck where Tyler provides that.
“And (Kurt) Gids can stick at fullback and do what he does best.”
Mullen and teammate Tariq Sims were monitored this week due to shoulder injuries, but both got through the final session.
“We trained pretty well and got through, it is something we just have to manage over the next few weeks until we get a break,” Mullen added.
“Everyone is playing with injuries each week… it is that time of year where you get niggles so just have to manage it.”
With the fitness test passed, Mullen was the first to admit the halves need to step up against the Eels on Sunday.
"Our forward and outside backs have been tremendous all year and the polish at the end of our sets hasn’t been the best but Tyrone (Roberts) and I are working hard together, along with the hooker, so we are all on the same page," he said.
"We have to pick up our game and it starts this week."
The Knights won’t be the only side looking to bounce back from Round 6 losses, with the Eels coming to town with the same intention.
“Everyone is desperate every week,” Mullen admitted.
“We had four wins to start the year off and now two losses and apparently the world is ending. We just have to get back to the winners circle.
“We are definitely hungry for the win, especially being back at home.
“For all those fans that come out, we need to put in a better performance.
“I think the last two weeks we have been out enthused and that just can’t happen at home. Everyone is excited and ready to play.”
After two losses in the rain, the team has a plan B should they be met with wet conditions on Sunday.
“If it is wet, we just have to change our mentality with the ball and probably treat it like gold," Mullen said.
“We have changed our game plan a little bit to negate the wetness, so we just need to go out there and do it.”
Gates open at 11.30am on Sunday, with NSW Cup kicking off at 11.45am before NYC at 1.45pm followed by the main game at 4pm.