Taia's blunt warning for Titans teammates
They were the team that brought Cronulla's winning run to an end at 15 games but Titans back-rower Zeb Taia is urging teammates not to take the Knights lightly and let them break their 15-game losing streak on Saturday.
Already in the record books as the worst-performed Newcastle team in the club's history, the Knights conceded 36 second half points against the Panthers last Sunday and are on average conceding just under 34 points per game.
The Titans began their 2016 campaign with a 30-12 win over the Knights on the Gold Coast in Round 1 and although Newcastle's season has been one of misery the Titans could be keeping them company if they come up short on Saturday.
Taia played 101 games for the Knights across six seasons before leaving to join Catalans in the English Super League and believes mentally the Titans are heading for their toughest test of the season against a team with nothing to lose.
"They're going to come out firing and I'm going to let the boys know that I reckon it's going to be our toughest game of the season," Taia said.
"They're massive underdogs and they've got nothing to lose. They're playing at home and they want to come out and get a win over us.
"We got them in Round 1 and they want to pay us back for that.
"It's definitely going to be the toughest one of the year for me I reckon.
"We know it's a massive opportunity for us and we just need to take it. It's how we prepare this week and how we turn up on the day."
Currently revelling in his new surroundings and in a team that has already far exceeded the predictions of pundits at the start of the season, Taia admitted that he has felt a tinge of sadness for the current woes of his former club.
Newcastle coach Nathan Brown has been forced to use 34 players in the top grade this season including three teenagers and four players just 20 years of age as he endeavours to set the club up for future success.
Taia had played just six NRL games before making a mid-season switch to the Knights in 2007 and said the motivation is high to deliver a big performance in his first start at Hunter Stadium as an opposition player.
"I do have a soft spot for Newcastle because that's where I played most of my games in my career but I'm happy at the Titans and would love to go down there and get the win against the Knights on their home turf," said the 31-year-old.
"They are struggling this year but I think they're just in the rebuilding stages and they're going to get a lot of joy in the future with a lot of young kids that are coming through there.
"For guys like me going back there, I'll be looking to have a big one.
"I spent a lot of good years playing there so just because it's your old team and you want to get it over them again.
"We got it over them in the first round and we want to do the same thing again."
Taia is not the only member of the Titans with connections to the Steel City. Tyrone Roberts will be in the opposition sheds for the first time in his 114-game career if he recovers from a knee injury, Greg Bird played junior representative football with the Knights and winger Anthony Don studied teaching at Newcastle University.