Dane Gagai says the Newcastle Knights are determined to assert themselves from the outset and set the pace of the game against the Gold Coast Titans at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
The team completed its captain’s run at Hunter Stadium in icy cold conditions on Friday morning in preparation for the Round 19 Men of League Heritage match.
“I was a bit excited to get out of Canberra and the cold but we have a few cold snaps here so will just have to deal with it and get the job done tomorrow,” Gagai said after the final training run.
Disappointed in the team’s current form, the centre believes there’s an even stronger desire among the squad to earn a win at home.
“There’s always expectation and I guess the last few weeks we haven’t been delivering that,” he said.
“We haven’t been giving what the fans wanted but I’m going to make sure I go out tomorrow and do everything I can to give the crowd what they want and hopefully get the two points.
“We have lost a fair few games now and it’s getting to a point where I guess everyone has had enough.
“We just have to put our foot down and make sure we compete for that full 80.”
Gagai shone light on areas of the game the team has applied extra scrutiny to.
“It’s just our completions. You can’t win games without ball and defending on the back of that,” he explained.
“We’ve really been focusing on defence this week and that’s going to be a key for us….and (Rick) Stoney has drilled that into us.
“We have to make sure if we do make an error, we don’t leak any points on the back of it.
“If you let a team get away, it’s going to be hard to chase them down."
Gagai, who returned from a series winning game with the QLD Origin team spoke about the positives of having five-eighth Jarrod Mullen back in the line-up after recovering from injury.
“I love playing outside of Jarrod. He has a great left to right pass but he’s a dangerous ball runner too,” he said.
“It varies up that right edge and gives me a bit more room to work with.
“I always look forward to playing with him, he’s a good defender and helps us out with talk on that right edge.”
Most of all he wants to record a much-needed victory at Hunter Stadium to repay the Club’s Members and fans for their loyalty and support throughout current tough times.
“We have some of the best fans here in Newcastle and they don’t deserve the results that we are giving them,” he said.
“I’m just going to do everything I can tomorrow to turn that around.”