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Frizell fired up to avoid finals envy

Tyson Frizell is determined to avoid the intense envy that arises from watching other teams play finals football with the Knights still in control of their top-eight fate.

Despite an illustrious career in which he's represented NSW and Australia, Frizell has only experienced three playoff games.

One of the driving forces behind the 29-year-old second-rower's decision to leave St George Illawarra and join Newcastle was the allure of competing for a premiership.

But if the Knights want to have any chance of climbing that mountain in 2021, Frizell knows they must prevail in Sunday's clash with Cronulla, who are two points behind them on the NRL ladder in 10th spot.

"The older you get, the more you appreciate how tough it is to make finals footy. I'm doing everything I can to perform well and I know this playing group wants to be a part of finals footy too," Frizell said.

"We need to be winning this game first and foremost and hopefully that comes at the back-end of the year. In the past, it's [been] very difficult [to miss out on the finals]. I try not to watch it, to be honest.

"You get pretty jealous of the guys that are there. The only game I really like to watch is the grand final ... When you're not playing at that time of year, it's very disappointing."

Sharks v Knights - Round 22

While Newcastle are ninth (level on 20 points with seventh- and eighth-placed Gold Coast and Canberra), they'll secure a finals berth if they win their last four games given they face the Titans in round 24.

Now at full-strength - with their spine of fullback Kalyn Ponga, halfback Mitchell Pearce and hooker Jayden Brailey back on deck along with strike centre Bradman Best - the Knights are upbeat.

"It's massive for myself and my game, having Mitchell there beside me and directing myself," Frizell said of Pearce.

"It makes my job a lot easier too. Kalyn's been great for us since he's come back and Jayden [who was rested last round] is that other guy that does a lot of work that's unnoticed in the middle.

"This time of year, you want your best players playing their best footy ... I'm sure we'll be successful if we can."

After a four-day turnaround before last round's win over the Broncos, Newcastle will have enjoyed a 10-day break ahead of facing Cronulla.

The Knights have won their past three games against the Sharks but Frizell is wary of the Josh Hannay-coached outfit.

"I think they've built that grittiness right through [2016] when they were pretty dominant obviously winning the premiership. That's just rolled on from there," the edge forward said.

"They're a side that love to attack and love to throw the ball around, so they'll never fall short of a lot of points. Our defensive side's going to have to be on its best game this weekend.

"They're definitely a team that we enjoy coming up against. They're an old side of mine, it's where I started my career, so every time I get an opportunity to play against them you want to be playing your best."

Enari Tuala added: "We're really confident in our game against them."

Tuala has scored four tries in his past two starts, including a hat-trick against the Raiders, and transitioned from centre to wing.

"Playing beside KP [Ponga] and Braddy [Best], you know something special is going to happen," the former Cowboy said.

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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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