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Klemmer vows to stay focused ahead of Bulldogs clash

David Klemmer has convinced himself this is just another game.

Nothing personal.

Business as usual.

But when Newcastle's new pack leader runs on to Suncorp Stadium on Saturday afternoon to line up against Canterbury for the first time, his football-only focus will be tested.

The Sydney-born All Saints Toongabbie junior played 113 games for the Bulldogs in the past six seasons, rising through the ranks to represent NSW and Australia, and he remains indebted to the club for the role they played in shaping his career.

But his loyalties now lie with Newcastle, having been granted a release from the final two years of his contract at Canterbury last November to sign a five-year deal with the Knights.

Averaging 179 metres and 35 tackles a game, Klemmer has been Newcastle's most consistent player in his first eight games and he wants to continue that form against the Bulldogs.

"My mindset is me just turning up and playing footy, doing my best and giving my best game for the Knights, like I've been doing the last couple of weeks, so that's all I've got to think about," Klemmer told reporters in Newcastle before training on Wednesday.

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"I've got good people around me and talking to me this whole season since game one, helping me with my game management and how I prepare for games. This game is just another game of football that I have to turn up for and help my footy team."

Knights coach Nathan Brown said Klemmer's hatred of losing was the only motivation he needed.

"Obviously it's the first time he's played his old club, which is a different experience for him, but I'm sure with his maturity and where he's at with his footy and his age, it won't be an issue for him," Brown told a media conference on Tuesday.

"Klem's always acknowledged that Canterbury took him in as a young kid and gave him a start and he became an Origin and a Test player and played a number of grand finals for Canterbury.

"We were fortunate how the situation evolved that Klem thought it was in his best interests to maybe leave Sydney, for not only football reasons but for other reasons, and Newcastle, with a young family, seemed like a good destination."

Playing at a neutral venue might take some of the sting out of whatever sledging Bulldogs fans have in store for their former hero, but Klemmer seemed unconcerned about any yap on or off the field.

"If you bring in those sort of factors, they can be a burden on you," he said.

"I think they'll be just looking to play footy as well, hopefully, and I reckon it's going to be a good footy match. It will definitely be weird me versing my former footy side, so running out and seeing them in a different jumper, it's definitely going to be different."

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Klemmer understands the interest in his first game against his old club but was not about to launch a pre-game war of words, and would be "too puffed" to say anything inflammatory on Saturday.

"It's part of the game, I know, but for me, I've got to worry about playing football. I don't want to get into a verbal or stuff like that," he said.

"When you're running around and trying to scream for the tackle or for the football, it's pretty hard to get into the verbal for me.

"Maybe when I was younger and coming through and only playing a bit of minutes, I could probably speak a bit more, but when you're playing longer minutes, it's hard to find your breath from running around."

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Klemmer even had kind words for former Sydney Roosters and Queensland sparring partner Dylan Napa, who has replaced him as Canterbury's front-row enforcer.

"Me and Dylan have always had a good competition against each other, and when he was at the Roosters I always enjoyed playing against him," he said.

"He's someone who always brings the best out in me, and we always have a good battle."

Knights utility Sione Mata'utia said Klemmer fires up against every opponent but acknowledged there could be some extra spice on Saturday.

"He'll bring the same thing that he brings every week. He definitely inspires the boys in the middle," Mata'utia told reporters on Wednesday.

"I know when I was in the middle … taking in some deep breaths and seeing Klem taking two hit-ups in one set, it was crazy. I don't know how he does it. I guess that just comes from experience and a mindset of wanting to win, so he'll bring the same this week."

Mata'utia said the game would also have extra significance for Canterbury fullback Nick Meaney and five-eighth Jack Cogger, his former Newcastle teammates taking on the Knights for the first time.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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