Despite the result this weekend, nib Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown believes there were some positives to come out of the tight four-point loss to the New Zealand Warriors.
Brown said his team are more committed this year, but maintains there are still areas where more improvement is needed.
For starters, he wants the team be able to play consistently for the full 80 minutes.
“We were in control after the first 20, had them on the ropes, then we had a bad 15 minute period,” Brown said.
“We were good enough to get back to the front but we weren’t good enough to play the game out.”
Facing high profile players like Warriors danger men Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, the Knights coach said you can’t make repetitive errors that allows them to come up with big plays.
“We could have controlled the ball better, we also need to get better in defence against those types of players,” Brown explained.
“They earn what they earn and their stature in the game is quite high because of what they can do so it’s our job to minimise the times we give them those opportunities.
“As a team we need to get our 17 players contributing because we don’t have a Roger-Tuivasa-Sheck or a (Shaun) Johnson on our roster, so we don’t want to be giving those blokes a lot of extra chances.”
However, Brown liked other parts of the team’s game.
“We were very good coming out of our own end,” he said.
“We made some adjustments on what we’re trying to do and I’d like to think we can improve a little bit this week and improve the week after.”
While it’s sad news for fullback Dylan Phythian who suffered a leg injury in the match against the Warriors, it’s likely Brendan Elliot will get an opportunity in Round 2.
Brown believes Brendan has been playing well and could come in to fill that fullback role.
“Brendan understands the game, he’s a good catcher and has been playing first grade for the last two or three years so he’s got some experience.
“We’re not bringing a rookie into the club.
“Brendan’s been here for nearly 12 months and he knows what we’re about and what we’re trying to do.”
Brown said it’s likely there will be a similar side named this afternoon.
“We don’t want to move the team around if we don’t have to.
“Pete (Mata’utia) did a good job when he went back there, but Pete and Rossy (Nathan Ross) have a good combination so we don’t want to break it up.”
The coach also praised back rower Mitch Barnett, who received Players’ Player, for his efforts on Sunday.
“He’s a good footy player, he’s hungry, committed and he likes to compete so I don’t really think it matters where he plays, he’s going to give you his all,” Brown said.
“We’re really happy with how he’s developing, he’s only 11 games in so he’s a player that is going to get better with time.
This Saturday the red and blues will go up against the Gold Coast Titans, who will be looking to bounce back from their 14-point loss to the Sydney Roosters on the weekend.
All three grades will be in action at McDonald Jones Stadium with NYC scheduled to kick off first at 10:45am.