Newcastle's stand-in co-captain Aidan Guerra says the Knights have reached the stage of the season where the squad will find out if they are the real deal in the "land of the giants" against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The Novocastrians are sixth with a 5-3 record and the former Roosters forward said Friday night's clash with the Rabbitohs can show the rest of the competition they are the real deal.
"I guess this little period now is seeing if you're the real deal or whether you've just fluked a couple at the start of the year," Guerra said.
"As a club we are looking to establish ourselves in the top eight.
"Obviously it's going to be tough in this period without Pearcy leading us around but the crew that we do have there are more than capable.
"We just have to put it together every week and this is really the first chance to do that."
Knights v Rabbitohs - Round 9
The forward leader last week took over as on-field captain from halfback Mitchell Pearce, who is out for around three months with a pectoral injury.
This will be his second game as skipper with a 100 per cent record to protect.
"I was behind a lot of experienced players at the Roosters and I learnt a lot from good players there with some good captains," Guerra said.
"To be able to get this opportunity to captain this club is something that will stick with me for life.
He will have more than a leadership role to worry about on Friday night as a second rower coming up against a South Sydney forward pack he labelled "the land of the giants".
It is just Newcastle's third home game in the opening nine rounds, and Guerra is proud of the way a number of younger players have shown maturity for them to be in the top eight.
"For us to be away for as long at the beginning of the season it was going to be tough," Guerra said.
"We got away with a few victories there and hopefully that will build us good momentum going forward.
"I'm very proud how we've come together as a side and I guess last week without Mitchell to show our growth and the maturity is there now in some of the players.
"After eight games to be sitting at five and three it's pretty good but we are still along way off our best and hopefully we're even better after this weekend.
"We've got to make this clash a 50-50 battle and then we will be in with a good chance."
The Knights have named an unchanged line-up from the one that beat Manly, but know they must control the ball if they are going to have a chance - something that has let them down in the three losses this year.
The club has pre-sold more than 20,000 tickets for the 6pm clash at McDonald Jones Stadium.