North Queensland Toyota Cowboys co-captain Matt Scott is urging his side to make significant improvements to their defensive performance as they prepare for a tough two-game road trip.
Scott believes fixing their defensive issues will also help the Cowboys reclaim their reputation as one of the competition's most feared attacking outfits.
"Defence and attack go hand in hand," he said.
"Our defence hasn't been up to scratch, but the way we've been attacking has been putting pressure on our defence."
"The soft tries through the middle are inexcusable. We've had a good look at them during the week and they weren't very pretty to watch. I know everyone is embarrassed about some of the soft tries we have conceded so that's definitely an area of focus for us."
Scott, who missed all but two games of the 2017 season, hosed down suggestions his surgically repaired knee was hampering his performance in 2018.
Critics have pointed to a dip in key statistics including running metres as evidence, but Scott said he has never judged his performances on numbers.
"I couldn't care less about my metres to be honest. I've never looked at them and never will. I look at a couple of different stats in reviews and metres is definitely not one of them," he said.
The Cowboys front-rower said he is eagerly anticipating locking horns with the star-studded Penrith forward pack, including ex-teammate James Tamou.
"It's going to be a huge challenge, they've obviously got a great pack and that's where their strength lies. Campbell-Gillard, Trent Merrin and Jimmy Tamou are all great players," Scott said.
"They've got a huge pack that are very good at going forward and are very good around the ruck.
"We've got a massive job defensively, we've already said it's going to be an area of focus for us, but against this side in particular it's going to be a tough ask."