Knights coach Adam O'Brien has warned he will make personnel changes if he fails to get a positive bounce back from his side's loss to the Bulldogs, declaring there will be players "fighting for their footy life" against Melbourne on Sunday.
Despite a lengthy injury toll that has left him with a quarter of his playing group unavailable, O'Brien insists he won't be afraid to blood a young squad member going forward if the attitude and effort from a number of his current players doesn't improve against the Storm on the Sunshine Coast.
O'Brien questioned his players' sense of entitlement after their shock defeat to the bottom-placed Bulldogs and he double-down on his hard-line approach yesterday by insisting positions in the team are on the line.
"If we don't get a bounce back this week, I need to make some personnel changes. That's what will happen," he said.
"If it's a young guy that hasn't been tried, if I think he is going to come out and give us effort, then I'll put him in.
"There are some guys there I'd guess you'd say are fighting for their footy life after last week.
"So I'm looking for a good performance from a fair few of them."
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The Knights have lost their past eight games against the Storm, including a 26-12 defeat in round 5 at Gosford seven weeks ago. They were as flat as tacks in the first half of that game to trail 18-0 after 35 minutes but fought back after the break to make a real contest of it.
O'Brien is convinced his side can take a lot of confidence out of that second half performance into the clash on Sunday.
"We can believe we can win because of how we finished against them last time we played against them," he said.
"We were stand-offish and they pour through us and we were a little bit loose with our contact to start the game. But when we stopped being in awe of them, we gave ourselves some self-belief.
"Defensively, we are a better team now then we were a month ago. We've made some improvements in that area."
O'Brien says the Knights will have to be prepared to stay in the grind for the duration if they are to come away with the points against an unrelenting Storm who have won their past five games in succession.
"I know what they'll give us - they'll give us 80 minutes," O'Brien said when asked what to expect from the Storm. "They'll put a lot of pressure on you and wait for you to crumble. They came with a game plan last time where they moved the footy and didn't just try and go through our middle.
"They are really well balanced, they have been together a long time so they understand what their best footy looks like.
"But at the end of the day, we've got to get us right. We need to start a lot better and stay in the fight because it will go the 12 rounds, these sorts of games against Melbourne.
"If you are going to be there for a three-round fight, it won't happen."
O'Brien has plenty of faith in rookies Chris Randall and Phoenix Crossland to do a job out of dummy half.
"Randy, I think he showed in his debut game when he made 71 tackles that I'm going to get effort out of him and Phoenix trained really well there yesterday," he said.
"When you put a half in at 9, they generally get the ball to the person that needs it and they have a nice pass but what I like about Phoenix is he has put some size on."
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