Newcastle may not have won the Auckland Nines, but Knights coach Wayne Bennett still left Eden Park satisfied with his side’s effort.
While the Knights’ bowed out in the quarter-final stage against the Brisbane Broncos, Bennett says he was happy with the Club's overall performance at the inaugural tournament.
The veteran mentor nominated five-eighth Jarrod Mullen as the Knights' best player, while he also praised the players for their never-say-die attitude in a luckless final match against the Broncos.
"I wasn’t disappointed with us," Bennett about the Knights' campaign at the nines.
"It’s just in that last game, it didn’t run for us at all.
"But I thought their effort was still good and they kept turning up trying to turn something around that was pretty hard to turn around.
"The Broncos had all the momentum and any luck out there was kind of going with them."
Bennett believes all 16 NRL teams can take valuable lessons from this weekend's Auckland Nines.
"I think we all learnt a lot," he says frankly.
"All the coaches would have learnt a lot here.
"We won’t worry about the competition until next year now, but I think the quality of the games got better and the things being done by teams."
Asked if he thought the exciting new concept had a future, Bennett was adamant the tournament could become a regular event on the league calendar.
"Oh absolutely," he says.
"I think it was a great advertisement for rugby league.
"The fans have been outstanding and the atmosphere at the ground was just great.
"I think everybody enjoyed being here, it was well managed and we never had a hiccup."
The Knights return to Newcastle on Monday and will prepare for their final trial match against the Canberra Raiders in Tamworth next Saturday.