A rematch with their old club no longer carries the same emotional significance for former Roosters Connor Watson and Shaun Kenny-Dowall.
But the adopted Novocastrians would still like nothing better than to help the Knights extend their winning streak to five and continue their climb up the NRL ladder by lowering the reigning premiers’ colours at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night.
The Roosters have won their past six games against Newcastle and 10 of the past 11 meetings stretching back to 2011.
Of the 17 Knights named for the game on Friday, only Edrick Lee (Raiders), Hymel Hunt (Rabbitohs), Kurt Mann (Storm and Dragons), Tim Glasby (Storm), David Klemmer (Bulldogs), Herman Ese’ese (Broncos) and James Gavet (Warriors) have played in teams that have beaten the Roosters.
A veteran of 224 games in almost 11 seasons at Bondi, including a grand final win in 2013, Kenny-Dowall is the longest-serving former Rooster at the Knights after joining midway through 2017.
"I've tried to take away the emotion of that. It’s more about putting in a team performance and building as the Knights now," Kenny-Dowall told reporters after training on Wednesday.
"It's obviously been an extended period of time that we've been away from that club. There probably is a little bit of emotion there but you try to step aside from that in games like this.
"The belief is high in the squad. Some of the younger guys haven't tasted success against the Roosters so I think we definitely are in the best shape to really challenge them on Friday night."
Captain Mitchell Pearce, Watson, centre Tautau Moga and injured back-rower Aidan Guerra followed Kenny-Dowall to Newcastle at the beginning of 2018.
All five were in the team thrashed 38-8 at Allianz Stadium early last season. Only Watson, Kenny-Dowall and Guerra were present when the Roosters edged the Knights 18-16 in Newcastle last June.
"It's always good coming up against your old club but I've been here for a year now so it's not so much the same feeling as last year," Watson told reporters on Wednesday.
"It's not like I'm coming up against my old fresh team-mates. They're still mates of mine but I'm a Newcastle Knight now, so that's what matters and I'm here to do a job for us."
Watson, who has been named at five-eighth but is expected to come off the bench, expects the premiership favourites to be smarting after their 15-10 loss to Brisbane last Friday – just their second defeat this season.
"Their defence is the best in the comp, they're always going to be tough and physical and I'm looking forward to it," Watson said.
"We've come off four good wins and I feel like we're still learning every week and still building every week, but this is the reigning premiers. This is what you want to test yourself against and these are the games why you play footy – you want to play in these big games."
Kenny-Dowall described Newcastle’s 45-12 dismantling of the Dragons in Mudgee last Sunday as "probably one of the best 80-minute performances that we've put together since I’ve been here".
"We’ve got the formula now but it’s a matter of doing that consistently," the Kiwi international said.
"They're very clear in their direction and their game plan.
"They love building pressure and putting pressure on the opposition, so I think we’re going to have to match them in all those aspects of the game and really try to outplay them at their own game."
Kenny-Dowall said the Knights would again look to Pearce, man of the match in their four straight wins against the Eels, Warriors, Bulldogs and Dragons, to lead them against the Roosters.
"We're really starting to see a mature Mitchell Pearce and we're getting the best out of him on and off the field at the moment," he said.
"It's great for the Knights and it's great to see my good mate developing as a person as well."