Newcastle backrower Mitch Barnett says re-discovering desire and desperation in defence to prevent soft tries being scored by rival teams is the biggest challenge facing the Knights.
And it must start against Parramatta on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium if they are to re-emerge as a top eight contender after four consecutive defeats.
“We can do a lot better. We showed that earlier in the year,” Barnett said of his side’s defence.
“We’ve all got to be a lot better across the park and it starts this weekend. We have trained well. We just need to transfer that onto the park this weekend.
“We need to turn up with a lot better mind-set and start a lot stronger definitely.”
Barnett admitted the side needed to positively react to the embarrassing 48-10 caning they received at the hands of the Sharks last Sunday.
“If it’s not a wake-up call, I don’t know what will wake the boys up,” he said.
“Every week is a must win but we don’t want to go five [defeats] in a row so this is definitely a must win.
“We still see ourselves as a top eight side and what we have tossed up in the last four weeks is not acceptable by our standards.”
Despite an improved roster, the Knights defence is statistically worse than last season.
Barnett says the problems stem from the players not collectively being “on the same page” in defence.
“We are not all on the same page at the same time,” he said.
“One week it’s the middles getting rolled when the edges are defending really well and then the edges are not defending as well when the middles have improved.
“If we can get on the same page, I think our defence will start to improve. Early on, our defence wasn’t where we wanted it to be but we were still winning because we were stopping tries and working really hard.
“We need to get back to that stopping tries and our defence will turn.
“We do a lot of work on defence but at the end of the day, you have to want to defend.
“In key moments, we have lost that want to defend. Concentration is probably a big reason.”
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