Knights lock Mitch Barnett against the Panthers in Round 4.

We need to stick together: Barnett

Newcastle lock-forward Mitch Barnett is bracing for another tough game when the Knights head to the Shire for their clash with the Cronulla Sharks.

After the Panthers piled on 40 points against the Novocastrians, Barnett was honest in saying the only way to turn the side's fortunes around was to be more competitive right from the start.

 


The Knights were in the contest early until a red-hot 10-minute period before half-time from the Panthers could not be contained in the second stanza.

"It was embarrassing [against the Panthers] but I guess we're just going to have to look at simple things in defence," Barnett told NRL.com.

"We just didn't turn up and let little blokes run around us.

"We need to stick together in this.

"Outside looking in it probably looks like that [we were manhandled] but when you're defending all day you just get fatigued quicker and cannot keep up.

"It started right at the beginning with a tackle four penalty and we need to fix that as soon as we kick-off the game."

Barnett left the field late in the game last week at Pepper Stadium with a shoulder injury but said it was only a minor issue.

The former Raiders forward has quickly become a fan favourite amongst the Novocastrian faithful with the Wingham junior repaying the club's decision to sign him midway through last season.

"Taking on a higher workload I'm loving it but I need to be smarter in key moments," he said.

"I dropped from my standards [against Penrith] and that’s no excuse so I was disappointed in my own game, but I know I can fix it.

"It's [shoulder] alright, it was only precautionary and there was no point finishing the game with the result the way it was."

Barnett recently became the only Knight to join new Cowboys recruit Kalyn Ponga in extending his career in the red and blue beyond 2018 and was confident in the side's future under Nathan Brown.

"I'm stoked to be sticking around and having my future sorted for another three years," Barnett said.

"I'm enjoying my time here at the Knights and the club is moving forward, obviously the Panthers game wasn’t a reflection of that but we started the season a lot better so we just need to stick to our principles and turn it around [against the Sharks]."

Knights teammate Danny Levi declared the performance in Penrith was not a true reflection of how far the side had improved in 12 months.

"That [performance] is not us… we were all excited for the week but just couldn’t put it out on the field," Levi said.

"They (Penrith) were a quality side and we gave them too much ball so we were guilty of giving them too many opportunities. 

"We're still way ahead of where we were last year and for myself personally I feel we all know what to expect now coming up against the top sides.

"We've put that behind us and we're looking forward to bouncing back this week.

"If we cut those mistakes out and hold the ball and put more pressure on, we'll be fine.

"Cronulla are premiers but its another job we've got to look forward to, it’s a big task but were all excited for it and I think we're all up for it."

The 22-year-old wants to build into an 80-minute player as the season goes on and particularly with new recruit Rory Kostjaysn out indefinitely with a throat injury.

"I'm trying to get there and pump out the full 80 minutes but we've got JB (Jamie Buhrer) there as well and he's well experienced to play in most positions," Levi said.

"That’s the long term plan but for now I'll ease my way into the games after back surgery last year.

"I'm feeling good so hopefully I can start to make a bit of a mark on games more."