Lakes coach Lyndon Sheppard is calling on his players to be more "resilient" in the second half of the Newcastle Rugby League season as the Seagulls look to reset after the competition break.
Last year's grand finalists find themselves on the bottom of the competition ladder, but only two wins outside the top five, and Sheppard hopes a tougher approach will help turn his side's fortunes around.
Ideally, Sheppard wants to start by snapping a three-game losing streak against Maitland at Cahill Oval on Sunday.
"It's a good chance for us to regroup [after the week off]," Sheppard, who took over the Lakes mentoring job from Glenn Agland after round three, said.
"We've been working hard, but we haven't quite been rewarded for it.
"I think we need to be a bit more resilient. A bit tougher. Mainly when things go against us or if we make a mistake, we need to respond better.
"We've got eight games to go and I'm confident about the second half of the season.
"Hopefully we can start by getting a win this weekend."
Having already faced top-two teams Western Suburbs and South Newcastle twice this campaign, Lakes also finish with more than half of their matches at home in Belmont.
"There's no easy games in this competition but having five of our last eight at home won't hurt," Sheppard said.
"We've just got to stay positive and hopefully we can have a good run home."
The Seagulls last won against Kurri Kurri (22-18) in round five. They also beat Cessnock (28-18) in round two.
Sheppard said he remains without Knights representatives Jacob Gagai, fullback in NSW Cup this weekend, and Cleveland McGhie (concussion). However, Gundagai product Blake Dean is set to make his first grade debut for Lakes in the halves.
"He's earned a shot," Sheppard said.
Sheppard also praised the leadership qualities of both Seagulls captain Shaun Boss and hooker Daniel Peck.
"We are a young squad but they give us some experience," he said.
Third-placed Maitland are still without injured captain Sam Anderson while winger Gary Anderson is also unavailable. Elijah Rasiga was this week named 18th man for the Knights in NSW Cup.
In Sunday's other round 10 fixture Kurri host Central Newcastle a month after the Bulldogs beat the Butcher Boys 12-6 at St John Oval.
On Saturday and leaders Wests are at full strength away to Macquarie at Lyall Peacock Field while defending champions Souths travel to meet a Cessnock side strengthened by the return of centre Josh Charles from injury.
Meanwhile, a fundraiser called "Gathering for Grub" will be held for Graeme Russell at Souths Leagues Club on Saturday week (July 13) after the former Newcastle RL player recently broke his neck. Michael Hagan will be the guest speaker with Mike Rabbitt as MC.