Knights back on track: Gagai
They may not have bounced back with victory but Knights centre Dane Gagai believes the side is back on track following their one-point loss to the Sharks on Saturday afternoon.
Two tries in the final quarter kept the visitors in the contest before a James Maloney field goal sent the Knights back into all too familiar territory with another heart-breaking loss.
The improved performance following the 40-point defeat to the Panthers was the most pleasing aspect according to the State of Origin representative, who said the side had too much to play for and wanted to turn things around as quickly as possible.
"We obviously wanted to come out and prove a point that last week [against Penrith] wasn’t us," Gagai told NRL.com.
"Everyone had the right to think that was us again doing what we did [in 2016] but that was far from what we were capable of so we wanted to show that and no better way than to against last year's premiers.
"The boys did unbelievably well to defend the goal line for as long as we did… we never had the ball for 10-15 minutes at one stage and we held them out.
"We knew going into half-time we were definitely a big chance especially not having the ball for the first half and we were only eight points down and still in it.
"Our goal line defence was something we wanted to fix up from last week quickly so it was good to hold them out but when you don’t have that much ball against a team like the Sharks, it was always going to be hard to win.
"Hokko (Trent Hodkinson) doing what he does best with that clutch sideline kick made things interesting with a couple of minutes to go but unfortunately it just couldn’t go our way after."
In a rarity, the Knights face a six-day turnaround for their clash with the Bulldogs on Friday night at McDonald Jones Stadium with Des Hasler's men putting a tough week of media scrutiny behind them to knock off Gagai's former club the Broncos last Thursday in wet conditions.
"It is a bit unheard of that [we get a Friday night game at home] but it will be a good one for us now that we've set a benchmark for ourselves," Gagai said.
"The Bulldogs have a big forward pack and are a quality outfit but we need to focus on ourselves more than anything and we did that well leading into this game and what we can control.
"That’s what the NRL is about… the good teams are able to back up and repeat those efforts."
The Knights recently announced Gagai, along with utility Jaelen Feeney, are in the middle of designing the club's 2017 indigenous jersey to wear in their Round 10 encounter with the Raiders as part of the NRL Telstra Premiership's celebration of Indigenous Round.
To be given the opportunity to take control of the design is one that Gagai takes great pride in doing and has gone to great lengths to ensure everyone will enjoy the look and support the round with each club set to play in indigenous-designed jerseys for the themed round.
"Jaelen and I have worked on it and we're quite proud of what we've done," he said.
"We are just doing a few finishing touches.
"There is plenty of meaning behind it and we got the blessings from all the tribes in Newcastle so we're happy with how it looks and hope everyone else will be when it gets released.
"It's great they put the onus on us to create it and we obviously wanted to do it right so we made sure we got permission with what we wanted to design and put on it.
"Being a Torres Straight Islander we've incorporated that and the indigenous side into it and blended the design into one.
"I'm looking forward to unveiling it… we are keeping it a surprise.
"I think everyone will enjoy it, not just our people but non indigenous will appreciate it too."