FOR the first three seasons of his NRL career, Knights forward Lachlan Fitzgibbon admits he approached games hoping to win.
Now he expects to.
Fitzgibbon, the former South Newcastle junior, debuted for his home-town NRL team in 2015 and in his first 20 top-grade games collected three wooden spoons.
He had to wait seven games for his first victory in the NRL, and then eight games for his next.
But after Friday night’s 19-18 triumph against Manly in the season-opener, he wants winning to become a habit – just as it has been for new recruits Mitchell Pearce, Aidan Guerra, Slade Griffin, Herman Ese’ese and Tautau Moga throughout their careers.
“It’s funny,” he said.
“I think we were favourites again on the weekend, going into the game, and I think the last game [that happened] was against the Tigers last year, and we didn’t respond to that pressure real well.
“Coming into Friday night, everyone had high expectations on the team and the players we’ve brought in, so it it is a bit of a different feeling, but I’m sure it’s a feeling we can all embrace.
It is a bit of a different feeling, but I’m sure it’s a feeling we can all embrace.LACHLAN FITZGIBBON
“Hopefully we can win a few more.”
Fitzgibbon said before this season, Newcastle’s players went into games believing that “if we do all the one per-centers right, we can come away with the win, but a lot of the time, it wasn’t to be”.
The 24-year-old was hopeful Friday night’s win, in which he scored his 10th first-grade try, was a breakthrough. After losing so many games with second-half collapses last season, Newcastle held their nerve to produce their first golden-point win in a decade.
“Last year we went into the second half leading a lot of the time, and didn’t come away with the chocolates,” he said.
“We didn’t speak about it at half-time, but you can guarantee it was in the back of a few people’s heads.”
On Monday, Newcastle players were back in training and focused on an even tougher assignment – beating the Raiders at GIO Stadium on Sunday.
The Green Machine will be desperate to bounce back from a last-ditch 30-28 loss on the Gold Coast in their season-opener.
The Knights have won only five of 26 games in the national capital, and have lost their past three games on Canberra’s home turf.
“Canberra’s a tough gig for any team in the comp,” Fitzgibbon said.
“You go down there in July and it’s down to zero degrees.
“This weekend it won’t be [that cold] but they’ll get a good crowd, they’ve got a strong membership base, and they always get behind them.
“So it is a tough road trip, but I’m sure we’ll give it everything we’ve got.”