Roosters skipper Anthony Minichiello says the premiers are wary of a Knights side with nothing to lose in their round-20 NRL clash.

What to expect of a Newcastle side bereft of their State of Origin stars, out of NRL finals contention and their coach with one foot out the door?

That’s the situation facing the Sydney Roosters in their round-20 match against the Knights at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.

The Knights’ upset loss to the Gold Coast last week killed off their unlikely finals hopes and the week only got worse for the embattled club when Queensland star Darius Boyd was admitted to a mental health clinic on Wednesday.

NSW winger James McManus has since been ruled out of the match-up against the premiers with an ongoing toe injury he picked up in Origin III.

After their shock round-17 loss to last-placed Cronulla, the Roosters bounced back to form last week by dispatching top-of-the-table Penrith in a 32-12 win to get their own finals chances back on track.

But Roosters skipper Anthony Minichiello says the tricolours are fearful of a Knights side with nothing to lose, especially in the wake of claims they “let their mate”, Alex McKinnon, down in the loss to the Titans during the Rise For Alex round.

“It was tough for them last week, they didn’t show their best game,” Minichiello told reporters on Thursday.

“It is a danger game for us and we are wary of them.

“It was a good step forward for us last week and we want to continue with that.

“We have set ourselves high standards in defence and we think we are getting back there.

“Momentum is the key this time of year and building the team into the back end of the year and that brings confidence.”

Newcastle’s heavy injury toll means brothers Chanel and Sione Mata’utia will make their NRL debuts together against the premiers.

Minichiello said NSW centre Michael Jennings was likely still a week or two away from returning from a back injury for the fifth-placed Roosters.