Captain Kurt Gidley says the Newcastle Knights understand there’s plenty hanging on Saturday’s clash against the Canberra Raiders.
“This is a huge game for us, we are leading into a bye, it’s a four-point game and I look at it that way,” Gidley said after the team’s final training run at Hunter Stadium on Friday.
“They are all important every week, but with the past number of games, we’ve been inconsistent.
“We need to make sure we play well, defend well and complete well to get the result tomorrow."
Despite a tough contest in New Zealand last weekend, the team has extracted valuable improvements on previous weeks.
“You always have to look for some positives and there were some to take out of it,” he said.
“There were a couple of soft tries in the Warriors game and it’s always tough to compete over there."
Turning attention to the Raiders, Gidley anticipates a barrage from the side’s sizable forwards.
“They always have pretty big forward pack so the middle of the field, we’ll need to do a pretty good job there,” he said.
“They need to win the yardage, win the tackles, it’s the same game plan most week’s but especially with a bigger pack."
Five-eighth Blake Austin of the opposition will also hold much of the Knights’ attention.
“He’s a really good runner of the footy and he’s confident at the moment too so he’s backing himself to take the line on,” Gidley said.
“He’s one that we watched some video on this morning and we’ll need to be aware of when he has the ball where he is and make sure we don’t fall for any dummies.
“We need to talk about it when he’s around the ball or has the footy."
Many of the Knights have battled recent injuries, but the return of Gidley and Kade Snowden as well Dane Gagai passing a fitness test on Friday provides valuable confidence for the home side.
“He trained most the session there so we are expecting him to play at this stage,” Gidley said about Gagai.
“It was good to see him out there. He copped a knock in his calf against the Warriors and that’s always a tough one to get over, corks."
Meanwhile, the dependable utility moves to halfback and will play alongside Carlos Tuimavave.
“We have some injuries there at the moment and I always knew that would be my role if there were some injuries in the halves then I’d push into that position,” Gidley said.
The seasoned veteran praised 23-year-old Tuimavave’s attitude and application during the week’s preparation and expects him to turn it up a notch for his first NRL match at Hunter Stadium.
“This morning, that’s the first time I trained with Carlos in the halves and I thought he held his own last week,” he said.
“It’s been great to work with him there am I’m looking forward to playing.
“All indications today training with him he’s confident, happy to over call any play, and we need him talking and being enthusiastic.
“You want that out of your halves and Carlos brought that today at training.
“I thought he threw some good passes last week, we still need to work on some things and we trained really well today."
The Knights’ skipper is especially eager to return to the helm after being sidelined by injury.
“I have a spring in my step after unfortunately missing the game last week, I’m excited about playing tomorrow,” he said.
“We’ve played well and defended really well, even at the start of the year, but we’ve been leaking too many points at different stages of our games and have been inconsistent defensively.
“The big part of our game tomorrow will be to defend well, to talk and to get off our line."