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After their last encounter with the Canberra Raiders, steely defence will be the aim of the game for the Newcastle Knights according to James McManus.

“They are just a quality attacking team,” he said about Friday night’s opposition. 

“They can put some points on and your defence has to be up for it.

“Last time…they put some points on us and that was disappointing. 

“That’s probably the hardest part of this week and making sure our defence is up to scratch.

“They have some big players in their middle and some skillful outside backs, so it’s going to be some good game. 

“They embarrassed us up here last time.

"We were all bitterly disappointed with that.”

Yet the veteran winger knows the Knights are on the right track to turning the table on the their opponent this time around.

“I don’t think we’ve had a better week of training all year to be honest and everyone is really pumped and looking forward to going down there,” he said. 

“It’s a tough game and tough ask to win in Canberra, but I think we’re up for it."

The weekend’s bye came at optimum timing for McManus.

“Sometimes you need to take a step back a little bit and rally yourself for a couple of big weeks at training,” he said.

“We had three days of training during the bye week and they were all good quality sessions. 

“We have backed that up with a good week this week.

“That’s all you can do. You just have to keep working hard and turn up with the right attitude and things will turn.”

McManus expects Queensland Origin representative Dane Gagai to return to the side motivated and inspired by his Origin debut on Wednesday, as Sione Mata'utia did earlier in the week.

“It’s good to have Sione back this week after he spent the week with the Blues boys,” he added.

“He came back with a lot of energy and better for the experience.

“I guess we can feed off the Origin period a little bit here.” 

With the side set to be boosted by a number of senior heads who have been out because of injury, Kurt Gidley has returned to the position of fullback. 

“He leads the way with his talk and his organisation of the defensive line,” he said. 

“That’s a crucial role as a fullback to sort that out.

“That will be really good this week and I love playing with Kurt at the back there. 

“We have to play the football down the right end of the field and have teams kicking out of their end and staying in the grind and sustaining pressure.”