Grand final rematch 'not the focus'
The Newcastle Knights take on the Penrith Panthers in a Grand Final rematch from last season but Knights coach Matt Lantry insists his team isn't looking for revenge.
"For us it's a new season and we're focusing on our own performance this week rather than looking back at last year's Grand Final loss," Lantry said.
"We have a new team, new personnel and we’re just concentrating on our performances and gaining some consistency week-to-week to be competitive in all our games."
As reigning VB NSW Cup premiers, the Panthers will be determined to bounce back against the Knights after their 10-game winning streak was snapped at the hands of the Newtown Jets last week.
"No team likes to get beat," Lantry said.
"(Penrith coach) Garth Brennan is a former Novocastrian going through the coaching ranks and has gone through to Penrith. This match will be added motivation for him as well as the fact the Panthers are coming off a loss."
It's a big test for the Knights looking to stamp their premiership credentials for the season against the competition's leading contenders.
"Penrith is certainly the benchmark of the competition this year with the strength of their VB NSW Cup and first grade teams," Lantry said.
"We will be testing ourselves to where we are currently at but it's more about consistent performances this season."
Newcastle is also looking to return to the winners' circle this week after a tough 18-6 loss against local rivals Wyong, in which they were held scoreless for the final 72 minutes of the contest. However, defence has been the priority in training for the Knights this week.
"We had a look at what we are doing with the footy last week but for me, first and foremost, our defensive issues are the things we need to sort out to be better in the middle of the park and better under fatigue," Lantry said.
"If you're winning the battle defensively, the footy side of things takes care of itself from my perspective. It’s all about concentrating on our defence to give ourselves a chance with the footy."