Perfecting combinations and defensive skills will be a key focus for the nib Newcastle Knights in Saturday’s sell-out trial match against the Parramatta Eels at Maitland.
Athletic outside back Nathan Ross admits they’re expecting the visitors to come out strong and it’s their job to put on a good show.
“I think we need to nut down our defence and start playing to our trademark,” Ross insisted.
“We’ve got a lot of people in the team that can break a game, Mitchell Pearce, Kalyn Ponga and Connor Watson so as long as we get our defence down pat and perfect our structures, we’ll do well.
“We can’t get ahead of where we are because it’s a long season and injuries occur, so everyone will need to go out there and do their job.”
Ross admits he’ll be putting his best foot forward to ensure he retains a starting spot come March 9.
“I’ll be going out there doing my best and I’m lucky enough to be playing alongside talented players in Tautau Moga and Lachlan Fitzgibbon,” Ross added.
“If I go out there and do my job, I’m hoping to be playing alongside them in Round 1.
“Personally, tomorrow night I’d like to get out there and make sure I get all my carries up, I’d like to be very sound in defence and come out of it with no errors.
“With the players we have now, and the way I can pick their passes, hopefully I will be seen a little bit more open field, but don’t get me wrong I love that dirty stuff at dummy half and taking some hit ups.”
The 29-year-old has acknowledged the hype surrounding Eels player Jarryd Hayne, whose set to take the field on Saturday, but admits they can’t just highlight one player.
“He is a player that can do anything,” said Ross.
“It’s not my job to shut him down, it’s a team game effort and will be every player on the field, but we can’t just worry about Jarryd.
“They’ve got a lot of skilful players in Mitch Moses, whose played his best football since going to Parramatta, then you have Corey Norman, Bevan French, they’ve got a lot of talent right across the board so as long as we play well collectively, I’m sure Browny (Nathan Brown) will be happy.
“We’re not too worried about the result, we’re worried about the process and about implementing everything that we’ve learnt during the pre-season and if we do that, the results will come.”
Ross maintains the feeling amongst the squad at this time of the year, compared to last year, is completely different.
“It’s a good vibe and we’re starting to gel not just on the field but off the field,” he said.
“We’re starting to create some real relationships as friends and you need those relationships to be able to turn up for your mate on the field.”
But there’s one thing for sure, the Knights winger loves playing in-front of a red and blue crowd, which is set to take over Maitland on Saturday.
“It needs to be acknowledged how much support we have from the community, out here at Maitland especially,” Ross stated.
“We’ve had people turn up to our training sessions, the ground is in tip-top condition and to hold a trial out here will be good so people will sure get their money worth.”