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Penrith Panthers eye NRL finals

His future finally secure, in-form Penrith captain Kevin Kingston says he's relishing the chance to power the Panthers into the NRL finals and beyond.

Written off pre-season, Penrith host seventh-placed Newcastle on Sunday eyeing a fourth straight win and with an opportunity to consolidate their unexpected position in the top eight.

"I think we've surprised ourselves, especially the outside expectations that people put on us," said Kingston, who was rewarded with a new one-year contract on Friday night.

"People thought we were going to get the spoon, but the best thing about it is we've had a few things thrown at us as well, like injuries and a game in Darwin and stuff like that.

"Winning away and having all those sort of challenges and we've risen to the occasion."

With Penrith supremo Phil Gould and coach Ivan Cleary earmarking young gun James Segeyaro as the Panthers' likely first-choice hooker in 2014, Kingston's future had been uncertain.

But the 30-year-old journeyman revealed having to fight for a new deal had been a key factor in his outstanding form over the past month.

"When there's a bit of adversity thrown at you, you've got to try and keep composed and go about your job because, if you don't get the wins on the board at the weekend, you don't get a contract," Kingston told AAP.

"So if you focus on that, you usually get the contract.

"So you can either go one of two ways. You can either get rattled with it, down in the dumps and kick stones and not play very well or you can get on with the job and go head down, bum up really.

"I still think I've got a lot to give. The body's handling footy great at the moment and it's all in good nick."

As is Penrith's position on the ladder ahead of a challenging schedule over the last eight rounds, including clashes with the Sydney Roosters, Cronulla and two away games against Canterbury and Manly to complete the regular season.

"I think it's a good thing having a tough run home because, if we do make it, we've definitely earnt it and we'll definitely make a shake when we're in there," Kingston said.

"But you can fall into the trap of looking at the ladder right now because there's a fair few weeks to go and there's a logjam of teams on similar points.

"So we're not focusing on where we are at the moment. Over the next month, you'll get a better gauge of who is going to make the eight.

"We're going really well at the moment and I'm sure there'll be a hiccup or two along the way but, if we keep improving and gets some points, we should be sweet."

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