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Newcastle focus on discipline ahead of Sharks showdown

As their injury tolls mounts, the Knights have raised the intensity at training.

Players have focused on "steeling up" their poor defence at training as they prepare for Sunday's home tussle with the in-form Sharks at the renamed Beanies For Brain Cancer Stadium in recognition of the Mark Hughes Foundation. 

The Knights have lost three matches on the trot in the Telstra Premiership, due in large part to their poor discipline.

Five-eighth Connor Watson revealed coach Nathan Brown was starting to crack the whip harder with each defeat, in an attempt to improve discipline and defence throughout the young squad.

"It has been tough," Watson said.

"On the first day of training each week we've been doing sort of like three sessions which makes it hard.

"But we haven't been playing as well as we have liked in the last few weeks so the only way to fix that is to ramp up the training and really turn it around there."

It will be another change to the halves, with Brock Lamb suffering an injury in last Saturday's loss to the Gold Coast, with Jack Cogger replacing him in the No.7 jersey.

Watson does not believe it will be too much of a disruption, with the team fortunate to have depth.

Players divided over ruck penalties

"It's been a big change in the last month as I have played with two different blokes there," Watson said.

"My combination though with Jack when we're playing is good and I have known him for years, so it shouldn't be a problem to gel with him.

"But it will be a big challenge for us this week against the Sharks as they've won the last five games in a row and are playing some great footy."

It is not just Lamb who is posing a concern on the injury front, with crowd favourite Nathan Ross not completing Tuesday's training session with what is believed to be a groin strain, and hooker Slade Griffin rolling his ankle.

He is likely to be fit in time for kick-off.

The Sharks are known for winning the arm wrestle in the middle of the field, but Watson said Newcastle can't afford to take a step back from the exciting attacking plays that have worked for them this year.

"They are the kings of grinding out teams," Watson said.

"They've got a great forward pack with a lot of old heads who just know how to win footy games.

"For us though we just have to grit our teeth and get stuck in and have a real good crack.

"We won't be shying away from playing our attacking footy we just need to knuckle down with our defence. We just need to learn how to steel up."

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