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Newcastle Knights coach Rick Stone backs his decision to name an unchanged 18-man squad and believes improvements in execution can be made in time for Saturday’s match against the North Queensland Cowboys.

“The main thinking is that the effort was good and the effort has been good in the last couple of weeks,” he told the media on Wednesday.

“Obviously execution hasn’t been good enough.

“We look hard enough at the reserve grade team to see where we think we can improve our team.

“We’ve named the same 18 as we have the last couple of weeks.

“Whether we play the same 18, I suppose, only time will tell.

“We’ll have a look at it and see what is best for the team.”

Stone believes there is plenty of talent in the NSW Cup side that are putting pressure on the NRL squad.

“You’ve got to ask yourself ‘is it going to make your team better? Is it going to make your team more consistent?” he added.

“They are the questions you have to ask yourself when you’re looking at making changes.

“There’s plenty of people that haven’t had great games, whether it be last week or in the previous week.

“The number of errors is a real telling factor for us at the moment and is why we haven’t been as successful as we need to be in the last couple of weeks and individual players need to improve that.

“Your confidence does get dented when you lose, there’s no doubt about that.

“We are still confident in what we’ve done in the pre-season and what we have done in the first couple of rounds.

"It’s my job to put confidence into the players and into the team and particularly individuals asked to run the team.

"We need to start well again and I think we did that week last week but we need to make sure we concentrate for the whole 80 minute and it’s something we haven’t done for the last few weeks." 

Meanwhile game preparation has remained relatively unaffected despite wild weather lashing the Hunter this week.

“We had a good session out at the TAFE this morning which was good considering the weather in Newcastle the last couple of days has been tough,” Stone said.

“They had a recovery session the day before and video so we haven’t been disrupted too badly.

“Hopefully the weather clears a bit before Saturday and we get a good training run.”

Beau Scott ran for the first time on Wednesday after sustaining an ankle injury in Round 5, but is unlikely to be ready for Saturday’s game.

“I don’t think he’ll be playing this week and don’t think he’ll be playing in the rep round. He’ll likely be available for the week after against Manly in Round 9,” Stone concluded.

Saturday April 25 – Round 8

Newcastle Knights v North Queensland Cowboys
Gates open: 11am
NYC: 11.15am
ANZAC Ceremony: 1.45pm
NRL: 2pm
Venue: Hunter Stadium