Mitchell Pearce is not into reading social media. Too experienced for that. Especially after a loss. More so after an unexpected one.
It didn't surprise him to hear fans vented pretty heavily afterwards about the performance of the team against the Bulldogs. Or that he copped more than his fair share of the criticism.
Like several of his teammates, the Knights skipper was a long way short of his very best. His kicking game was off and so too was his execution at the end of attacking sets. He didn't need anyone to tell him that.
He's put his hand up to take responsibility, saying "I'm not hiding from it, I was really disappointed with the way I played".
But he says the tough criticism of himself and the team after dropping a game they should have won is not necessarily a bad thing.
"I think it shows there is a higher level of expectation out there of us and what we are capable of when we do get it right," Pearce says.
Toohey's News: Listen to Barry Toohey's new podcast in your Podcast app
"I think our standards are now much higher so we have to fight harder to reach them every week. When you get a performance like we dished up against the Bulldogs, fans are entitled to be dirty and asking questions.
"You don't take the field to play like that and there is obviously a ricochet effect when we don't play well and everyone including the fans are hurting. We just have to use that feeling, really work hard on why it happened and just become better for it."
In the build up to a challenging same-day trip to the Sunshine Coast on Sunday for the clash against the Melbourne Storm, everyone within the Knights tight-knit bubble has been searching for answers.
Tuesday was a meeting-a-thon, not just between coaches and players, but also between coaches and high performance support staff. The focus was not just the 80-minute performance against the Bulldogs but everything that could have contributed to it. It was all put under the microscope, according to coach Adam O'Brien.
"We've reviewed absolutely everything to look at what we need to be doing better and it's not just the players, it's everyone," O'Brien said.
Pearce admits there are no black and white answers for why the side didn't take the right attitude into games and came up with their two poorest performances of the season against the Bulldogs and Cowboys, two teams they were expected to beat.
But he says consistency, something this side hasn't had since their return from the COVID-19 break, comes from getting every aspect of their preparation right.
"We are all searching for answers and if they were there right in front of us and you could flick a switch, I would have changed things on the run against the Bulldogs," he said.
"I can't fault the training, the training has been great, the coaching staff and support staff have been brilliant.
"We just have to bunker down now and improve the culture within the playing squad that obviously is not set in cement yet. As the captain and one of the leaders, I have to drive that.
"As a group, there has to be that consistency across the whole club with our preparation, not just at training but in and around training.
"We need to make sure we are ticking off absolutely all the little one percenters and all those little things around training and our preparation which may not seem to be a big deal in isolation but will ultimately lead to more consistent results. As individuals and as a squad, that's where our focus needs to be."
Pearce refused to use a lingering issue with his knee or the club's crippling injury toll as excuses for up-and-down form.
"The knee is fine. I've got a bit of a medial thing and it's been a bit sore but there are no problems with it," he said.
"I get it taped for support more than anything because if it gets a decent knock, it can get worse. But it's all good.
"It's not about excuses. It's about playing well every week - me included," he said.
While you're with us, did you know the Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here
IN OTHER NEWS
- NRL: Tim Glasby's career suffers knockout blow as medical retirement looms
- NRL: Rookie Crossland gets his chance as Knights' injury crisis deepens
- A-League: Irish legend trades Jets for English League Two club Cambridge
- NNSW WPL: Olympic centre back Stacey Day out for 2020 season
- Racing: Andrew Gibbons claims maiden NSW jockey's premiership