Coach Nathan Brown has spoken following the Newcastle Knights' final training run at Hunter Stadium ahead of their match on Saturday.
In good news, Jarrod Mullen is set to rejoin the team to take on the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
“He has come through really well as the medical staff expected. It’s a good boost for the boys,” Brown said.
“Whenever Jarrod has been on the field we gave generally been in contests. He brings a lot of experience and his kicking game is outstanding.
“In these conditions it’s even more important.”
Brown believes strong defence around the ruck will be vital to slowing the Bulldogs' forwards.
“Any game where we have been blown a way…those games we have struggled around the ruck,” he said.
“In the games we have competed well in, we have generally defended well around the ruck.
“We have been going through a long process of players learning their tackle selection and tackle technique, adapting to speed and playing against bigger stronger far more athletic guys than what they are used to playing.
“It’s a tough process but we do get it right some days.”
Brown made note of the quality of training on Friday and says this improvement bodes well for the team’s on-field performance.
“Earlier in the year, our training was very scattered. We have a reasonable amount of consistency in the way we train now and that gives us more confidence,” he said.
“The guys’ commitment to each other at training has really picked up for as they have played more footy.
“That does give us more help going into games.”
Tyler Randell remains sidelined with a rib injury.
“Tyler’s very close, but the situation with the squad, we are giving Tyler another week,” Brown said.
Brown praised Chris Adams for the tenacity he has shown in his new role.
“The way he competes and the way he wants to get better is great,” he said.
“He was playing for Lakes (United) four weeks ago and he was one of our better players last week.
“He has plenty of courage and drive."
Meanwhile, Trent Hodkinson is set to come up against his former team for the first time with Brown not expecting him to receive any different treatment.
“I think they have a lot of respect for Hodko (Hodkinson) and he has a lot of good mates with a lot of the boys there, but all halves see traffic,” he said.
“The last six to eight weeks his defensive game has been really solid, so I’m sure anything that comes his way, I’m sure he’ll handle it.”