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Knights centre Gehamat Shibasaki.

Knights centre Gehamat Shibasaki is keen to make up for lost time after losing his starting spot due to some below-par fitness maintenance over the COVID-19 shutdown period. 

Shibasaki and Enari Tuala each played well in the opening two rounds but one was always likely to miss out with Bradman Best recovered from a foot injury upon the round three resumption.

With Best now missing due to a COVID-19 reporting issue, Shibasaki is back in the team and ready to prove his worth.

"With all the protocols, with the fitness and that, I was a bit lazy," Shibasaki said.

"You could say that [I was bludging] but when we were up and running again I started to find my feet and everything's back to normal with the routine based stuff.

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"I started a bit slow after the COVID break fitness-wise to be brutally honest. I got myself back into shape and now we're all really competing hard and it's all about being consistent."

Coach Adam O'Brien has left none in the squad in any doubt about the standards he requires and Shibasaki was eager to make an impact against his former club when Enari Tuala was rested after topping the team's in-game GPS readings since the resumption.

"The boys really hold each other accountable and I really felt that so now I'm back up and running and ready to compete with the boys," Shibasaki added.

I started a bit slow after the COVID break fitness-wise to be brutally honest

Knights centre Gehamat Shibasaki

"I think he has trust in all us outside backs, if there are injuries or our kilometres are really high."

Tuala returns this week alongside Shibasaki earning another cap after his 152 metres, five busts and 18 tackles against Brisbane and Best out for a week.

"It's been thrown up there to chop and change ... I think he wants boys coming in fresh, it is a long season with the rule changes, the boys are working really hard in the game so staying on top of that is a good thing," he said.

"I definitely don't take it personally, we need to push the rest of the boys that are playing and make them accountable.

"With all the boys running high kilometres we're on a rotation sort of thing so if we're ready to go, we have to stay ready so when it's our turn we come in fresh bodies ready to go."

Back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon also got through his first game since March after overcoming a hamstring strain.

"It was a long time coming, I think I was out for 13 weeks with all the COVID [shutdown] and the [hamstring] injury I had. It's good to be back, it's a long time between drinks," Fitzgibbon said.

Lachlan Fitzgibbon (left) after the win over Brisbane.
Lachlan Fitzgibbon (left) after the win over Brisbane. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"I was [sore] like everyone is after a few months off. The boys have had a few weeks to get their bodies right.

"Originally it was a minor belly strain [of the hamstring muscle], like a grade one tear which is usually a one-to-two-week injury but after looking at scans and the way I was feeling there was tendon involvement [revealed].

"Whenever there's a tendon involvement it means add an extra week to what they originally planned."

Fitzgibbon also said five-eighth Kurt Mann looked unencumbered at training after a fortnight hampered by an ankle injury and leaving the field early against Brisbane with hamstring tightness.

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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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