Premiership-winning forwards Aidan Guerra and Tim Glasby have not given up hope on the Knights playing in the finals but realise the time has come for their actions to speak louder than their words.
Newcastle’s 30-6 loss to Manly at Lottoland last Saturday was their fifth straight, and they have been all but written off as play-off contenders after slipping to 11th heading into Saturday's game against sixth-placed Parramatta at BankWest Stadium.
Guerra said the players had addressed the loss to the Sea Eagles, accepted criticism from themselves and coach Nathan Brown, and were now preparing for the Eels.
“Criticism is funny because we’re our own harshest critics. We don’t read too much about what everyone else says,” Guerra said on Monday.
“We go into meetings with the coaches and the players and we hold ourselves accountable for everything that we do.
“You criticise yourself for one or two things after every game, whether you win or lose, and unfortunately for the last five weeks, it’s been after losses, so us as a side and us as individuals are criticising ourselves already. How do we turn that into something positive? That’s the next step.
“Confidence is spoken about a lot but actions mean more to us than how we’re all feeling.
“What you can see is our actions, and we’ve got to get our actions right, then all that confidence or however you want to put it will follow.”
The Knights faced the same scenario when they played the Eels in Newcastle earlier in the season, and on that occasion ended a five-game losing streak with a 28-12 victory – the first of six in a row – to climb from last to fourth.
“It’s a funny coincidence,” Glasby told reporters on Monday.
“I certainly wouldn’t be going into the game thinking, ‘oh great, we’ve got Parramatta again’.
“They’re a good footy team, they’re playing good footy, and it’s certainly not a given that we’re going to snap our losing streak this week.”
Glasby said the Knights had to rediscover the resolve and resilience they demonstrated during their winning streak earlier in the season, and play with that same intensity for 80 minutes on Saturday.
“We won six games in a row against some really good footy teams earlier in the year, and we need to have a look at what we did well through that period and have a look at what we’re not doing so well at the moment, and try and get back to that sort of form,” the Queensland and former Storm prop said.
“Obviously finals is the goal for any footy team – you want to make sure you’re there at the right end of the season – but to get to the finals, you need to make sure you’re focused on the week that’s coming.
“While I think it’s in the back of everyone’s mind that wins are becoming more and more important – well, they’re essential at the moment and we’re getting close to do or die stuff – at the end of the day, if you go down there worrying about a win in a few weeks, you won’t worry about the win this week. We need to go down there and put in a good performance and get the result that we need.”
Guerra, who won a premiership with the Sydney Roosters in 2013, said the Knights still feel like they control their own finals destiny and will make it if they are good enough.
“You look at the draw ahead, and there’s probably six teams battling it out for two or three positions left in the top eight, and we play three of them,” Guerra said.
“So if we want to be fair dinkum about our spot, and whether we belong or not in that top eight, we’ve got to win those games. We’ve got to win if not all, then the majority of the next five games against sides competing for the same thing we are.”