Barnett gearing up for career milestone against Titans
Rugged Newcastle back-rower Mitchell Barnett knows better than most the Telstra Premiership can be an unforgiving environment.
In 47 matches for the Knights the past three years, he has won on 11 occasions, while also losing two games when on the books of the Canberra Raiders in 2015.
This Saturday afternoon, Barrett chalks up his 50th NRL career game when the Knights host the Titans at McDonald Jones Stadium.
The back-rower is hoping the impending milestone is the first of many in the Hunter.
"It's a great milestone for me personally," Barnett said.
"I see myself being here for as long as I can be, I love this club. It's my home club Newcastle, so the longer that I can stay here, the happier I will be."
The 11th win of Barnett's career - Friday's 18-16 victory over the Eels at McDonald Jones Stadium - featured a workmanlike 31 tackles and 123 metres from the 24-year-old.
The return of Mitchell Pearce from a pectoral injury provided the finishing touches to a Newcastle team who had struggled to win matches in the absence of the former Roosters and NSW halfback.
Aidan Guerra felt the biggest attribute Pearce offered was his astute kicking game.
"He kicked us into corners, sometimes we didn't make the most of it, but on some occasions we muscled up in defence and made them come off their own line," he said.
"There's no secret as to what he offers the football side, he's a very dominant half and likes to control the way that the play goes."
The former Sydney Roosters and Queensland Maroons back-rower was full of praise for Daniel Saifiti, who also made his return from injury against Parramatta.
"I think when he came back on in the first half, his impact was immediate as we had been building pressure," Guerra said.
"His aggression in defence also helps as well."
The Knights had finals expectations this year, which have not changed according to Guerra - although he admitted missed chances in close games have made the task difficult.
"We have definitely spoken about it this year, but the way we let games get away from us while 'Pearcey' was out might make it tough," Guerra said.
"As a side if we play well, we will win the majority of football games.
"If we are fighting hard and playing good football and getting beaten by better sides on the day, then you can probably take positives out of that."