Newly re-signed Newcastle centre Sione Mata’utia has labelled his side’s clash with the Bulldogs a danger game and says the Knights must be ruthless from the opening whistle if they are to resuscitate their finals hopes.
The Bulldogs sit just two points clear of cellar-dwellers Parramatta after three wins this season and have been plagued by off-field salary cap issues that has seen stars Moses Mbye and Aaron Woods depart to rival clubs.
But rather than view the Dogs as an easy kill, Mata’utia says the Knights won’t be taking anything for granted with the message clear.
“Show no mercy from the start. Make them know we are coming to play and from the start of the game, we need to be on point,” he said.
“We have spoken about the Bulldogs and if you watch their games, there is no lack of effort.
“They are definitely a dangerous side and they will bring their A-game so we have to bring ours.”
Such has been the demise of the Bulldogs this season, the clash at McDonald Jones Stadium will be one of the few times under coach Nathan Brown’s reign that the Knights will go in as favourite.
Asked if complacency could be an issue, Mata’utia said:
“Hopefully not, not from our side. We’d like to think the boys are going to come prepared for 80 minutes and not be complacent.
“It’s been noted. We have spoken about where the Bulldogs are on the ladder but where they are doesn’t show with their performances on the field.
“They are trying hard and they still have good players.”
The Knights have pin-pointed the Bulldogs’ big forward pack and their ability to get over the advantage line plus the move of Will Hopoate to fullback as significant to the outcome.
In David Klemmer, Aiden Tolman and Josh Jackson, they boast Origin experience in the pack while Hopoate will be a greater threat at fullback than he has been in the centres this season.
“They have a big forward pack and they don’t lack any go-forward so if we can limit them from getting some quick play the balls, it will definitely go a long way to getting a win,” Mata’utia said.
“It’s a big couple of weeks coming up for the club so tomorrow’s game is the start of hopefully stringing a few wins together because it is coming down to the crunch time of the season.
“We need to start getting some wins because if we are going to be in the top eight, we’ve got to start performing well to get there.”
Mata’utia said signing a new three year deal with the club on Thursday was a huge boost but would not affect the way he approaches the game.
“I’m going to try and carry the same energy in, that I have been in past weeks,”he said.
“The contract makes me play no different. I’ll still play the same game and play for my boys beside me and for the jersey and the town.”
Jamie Buhrer is set to return off the bench at the expense of Luke Yates.
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