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14 hours ago
Sydney Roosters captain Craig Fitzgibbon isn't reading into the form guide as he prepares to face a Newcastle side coming off three straight losses at Bluetongue Stadium on Sunday.
The Roosters are flying high having won four of their opening five games and despite the Knights only managing wins in their first two, Fitzgibbon still considers them one of the NRL's most consistent sides.
"I don't think they've been patchy at all to be honest, I think they've been playing really good football," Fitzgibbon said.
"They won a couple and the ones they've been beaten in, they've had a chance to win all of them, and against some pretty good opponents (Parramatta, New Zealand and Brisbane) too.
"Throw in a Kurt Gidley and Danny Buderus into a team that's playing like that, and we know were going to be in for a hard afternoon."
The Roosters are still without fullback Anthony Minichiellio and Mark O'Meley (hamstring) has not recovered in time, but they do welcome back forwards Willie Mason (knee) and David Shillington (alcohol breach).
For the Knights, NSW No.7 hopeful Kurt Gidley switches from fullback to halfback in place of injured Scott Dureau, with Wes Naiqama dropping back to fullback.
Gidley has played down the match as a chance to push his Origin claims against Mitchell Pearce, who is also in running for the halfback spot.
But the versatile utility does see the match as a chance for the Knights to test themselves against the "yardstick of the competition".
Newcastle coach Brian Smith agreed and said the key to his side's chances was matching the Roosters physically.
"They've been bullying teams around this year and they have a very physical approach," Smith said of the Roosters.
"They look like a very well-coached team, a team that is going at it full on, 100 per cent so we'll need to be likewise."
Newcastle at least have recent history on their side, winning two of the past three matches with both of those victories coming at Gosford, the only two times they've met there.
The Roosters can join the Gold Coast at the top of the NRL ladder with a win on Sunday but, while earning plaudits for their football under Brad Fittler, Fitzgibbon said they were remaining grounded.
"Were really trying to harp on about that, that we certainly haven't achieved anything, albeit were happy with the start we've made," Fitzgibbon said.
"Anyone would be happy with four out of five but we're certainly a long way from where we need to be and its such a long season."