Knights must continue to build: Smith - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Knights must continue to build: Smith

By David Beniuk 30/05/2008 04:41:07 PM Comments (0)

Coach Brian Smith says Newcastle have taken great pride in being one of the NRL's most improved sides this season but must continue to build momentum against the travel-shy New Zealand Warriors on Saturday.

The Knights had last week off but that doesn't mean Smith has forgotten about his team's first real drop in intensity in 2008 in the 38-26 round ten loss to the Wests Tigers.

Tigers coach Tim Sheens publicly lashed his men post-match in a potential turning point for the club and Smith will be hoping for a similar turnaround by his men at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

"Most of our focus has been about our disappointing performance against Wests Tigers and we do not want that to continue," Smith said.

"We want to address it straight away and bounce back, show our fans and each other that we recover quickly after a disappointment."

Six days before that loss to the Tigers, the Knights had shown some serious resilience by taking it to premiers Melbourne at the Olympic Park graveyard, eventually going down 18-4.

Smith said the Warriors, who this season have travelled as well as ice cream on a hot day, had also taught him something about turning a season around.

"They had a real rough patch last year, I think they lost seven in a row at one stage and still made the playoffs," Smith said.

"I think there's a message there, not just for them but for all of us.

"It's kind of how you strike back when you've had a rough patch and our rough patch was last game against the Wests Tigers and we want to nip that in the bud on Saturday night with a big performance."

The Knights have the chance to put their season quickly back on track, even without injured stars Kurt Gidley (face) and Ben Cross (thumb).

"We're in a pretty good place right now I think for a team that set its stall out to become the improver of the season," Smith said.

"I think we've got a great opportunity to build on the base from the early part of our season, but we do need to find improvement and we'll need to find it against the Warriors."

Smith has opted for a halves pairing of Scott Dureau and Jarrod Mullen with Manly signing Chris Bailey to be used from the bench as a ball-playing lock.

"That's been a sort of season goal for us but we've not been able to get there for one reason or another with injuries and suspension and also rep selections," Smith said.

"But when Bails comes into the game at lock we've got three potential ball-playing first and second receivers and that's going to add a lot to our attack.

"It may be not there on the first night but it's something we want to build towards as the season goes on."

The Warriors will be without five-eighth Michael Witt, who has a hip injury and prop Ruben Wiki, who has been banished to park football by coach Ivan Cleary.

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