Victory may have eluded Newcastle but Jarrod Mullen reckons he has finally found a winning combination with Knights star recruit Trent Hodkinson.
Long suffering Knights fans had plenty to cheer about despite the gut-wrenching last round 24-24 NRL draw with Canberra after veteran Mullen clicked with NSW No.7 Hodkinson.
Mullen left ex-Bulldog Hodkinson to call the shots as the five-eighth unleashed his running game, sparking a stunning Newcastle comeback after they trailed 16-0 in 35 minutes.
Mullen had a chance to celebrate his 200th game with a win in front of an adoring home crowd but missed a golden point field goal attempt as extra-time expired.
Still, Mullen said he would look back at the milestone game fondly after his combination finally gelled with Hodkinson.
“I think running the ball helps my game a lot and gets me in the game a lot more,” said Mullen who had a hand in three Knights tries.
“If Hodko (Hodkinson) is looking after everything out on the field there, it frees me up to go both sides of the ruck and run as much as I can.”
It was a stunning turnaround from a Knights side that had conceded 78 points in their two opening losses.
But Mullen said they still had plenty to work on ahead of their next round clash with fellow win-less outfit the Warriors – namely their sluggish starts.
“We had a chat about that and we need to come up with something,” Mullen said.
“We have to address that because the Warriors are a team that can blow you off the park.
“We need to fix it because we are sick of chasing points.
“I would love to start the game where we are in front and in control.”
Mullen was unfazed by the prospect of lining up against a “desperate” Warriors side who are feeling the heat after losing a total of 11 straight games, stretching back to 2015.
“We still haven’t won either (this year) – we are pretty desperate ourselves,” Mullen said.
“They are under pressure and so are we.”
But he stopped short of “getting in the ear” of out of sorts Warriors playmaker Shaun Johnson.
“I am not much of a sledger. I am not very quick-witted,” he laughed.
“He is obviously down on confidence. He will be keen for a big game.”