With the return of Jamie Buhrer to the bench this weekend, it will be a definite boost for the nib Newcastle Knights forward pack back at home against the Wests Tigers.
Mitch Barnett is happy to have the experienced forward back, who he feels brings a lot to the side.
“A lot of leadership, great talker on and off the field, he leads with his actions as well and he gives us some good guidance around that field,” Barnett stated.
“We have missed that and obviously, his work rate and versatility.
“He can play a number of positions and it will be great to have him back.”
While it’s a bottom of the table battle, the 23-year-old admits it’s an important must-win match.
“It is our grand final,” Barnett said.
“We don’t want to finish last this year and as much as we have improved, we are still at the bottom of the table and we need to start winning games.
“It is the bottom line; we need to win.”
While the Tigers might be in a vulnerable position, Barnett knows they will come out firing.
“You have to start well every week,” he said.
“They are in a bit of a rough patch but they’re starting to play some alright footy.
“They were a bit unlucky on the weekend and they started reasonably strong, so they’re actually starting to improve with Ivan Cleary stepping in.
“We have got to start strong and our second half needs to pick up massively.”
Barnett knows only an 80-minute effort will do.
“We probably only played 30 minutes on the weekend and as positive as the first half was, the second half was pretty embarrassing and we need to be a lot better this week,” he added.
Despite last week’s loss, Barnett is optimistic motivation remains strong.
“The boys are always confident, although we haven’t been getting the results,” said the Knights forward.
“We were very confident after that first half on the weekend but obviously the second half wasn’t good enough so I know we’ll go out there this weekend and we’ll improve again.”
The 23-year-old acknowledges they owe everyone a great performance on Sunday.
“Our families, ourselves, our coaching staff, our Club and then the fans as well,” Barnett explained.
“Everyone was disappointed about last week because that’s one we should’ve won.
“We are going to do everything we can to turn that around, put in a strong performance and hopefully get the win.”
Meanwhile Barnett has welcomed new recruit Shaun Kenny-Dowall to the Club.
“We met him this morning and he’s already had a bit of input on the team video session,” he said.
“He seems like a really nice guy so I know we’re all excited to have him here and I know he can contribute really well for the Club.”
After six weeks, footy action is back at McDonald Jones Stadium this Sunday, NYC kick-off at 11.45am before NRL at 2pm.