Minimising errors and improving discipline will be at the forefront for head coach Nathan Brown as the Newcastle Knights build to face the Canberra Raiders on Saturday.
The Knights return for the first home game at Hunter Stadium in 2016, eager for redemption after the team’s first two rounds.
“Minimising basic errors and having better discipline is a good basic concept of how to start a game and give yourself an opportunity to put yourself in game and be in the contest,” Brown said.
“I thought on the weekend we didn’t make as a good account of ourselves as we’d have liked to.
“We know the areas where we have to work on and some of our younger players probably learned some really good things about how important small parts of the game are.
“Some of our experienced players are probably learning those parts of the game are really important as well.
“The more you do it, buy into it and believe in it, the better player you can become."
The process of improvement was in full swing on Tuesday with the Knights undertaking their first field session after the weekend’s loss.
“They were very enthusiastic which is pleasing,” Brown said.
“We are a working progress team and hopefully we can get a fair bit of improvement on the weekend."
Brown expects the Knights to deliver increased intensity from the outset on Saturday.
“It’s the small and basic fundamentals of the game and at the minute, in the three games we’ve had since I’ve been here, including the Canberra trial, it’s the process of starting a game,” he said.
“We generally started off with one set then an error, then a penalty.”
In rectifying the slow start to games, the Knights hope to thwart the Raiders' momentum after back-to-back wins in the opening rounds.
“They have a side that I think everyone would agree, if they can maintain their better players on the field, then they are going to be a side that in September, you’d be surprised if they weren’t there,” Brown said.
“They have a big pack and a pack that has some footy in them.
“It’s a tough challenge, and every week in the NRL is tough and that’s the lesson these blokes are going to get as they keep going.”
While acknowledging the Raiders’ strengths, Brown has confidence the Knights will match their opposition up front, especially when playing in front of a home crowd.
“Size is not terrible when you have the two Saifiti boys (Daniel and Jacob), one is 118 and 110 kilograms, Pauli Pauli is 118 kilograms himself and Korbin’s (Sims) not a small size. There’s plenty of size there,” he said.
"We have to work on the fundamentals of the game and learn how to fight when we are in touch situations.
“I understand where we are, and you obviously don’t want to be where we are.
“I understand the process of what we’re going through and we have a plan in place, I’ve been through a number of times before and I know that works. It just takes a bit of time.
“You’d like to think we can put our best performance in.
“If we can learn how to get the process of how to start a game, and get ourselves in a bit of an arm wrestle for a while then we can keep working on the fundamentals of the game."
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