When Newcastle Knights coach Wayne Bennett first arrived in town back in 2011, the first thing he wanted to do was ensure the Knights' players were all on the same page.
It's a goal Bennett has spent the past two years striving towards as he aims to lead the Club to premiership glory like he previously achieved at St George Illawarra and Brisbane.
Speaking at the Knights’ official 2014 season launch at the Merewether Surfhouse on Friday, the supercoach says his original aim of team connection is closer than ever before.
“I think the boys now understand what’s required to compete at the top level," Bennett says.
“There are a couple of levels in this competition and you’ve got a choice where you play.
“I don’t want to be at that bottom level and I want to be at the top level, because that’s where all the fun is and all the great moments.
“Everybody wants to be there now and I’m pretty confident about that."
Bennett admits he has noticed the team change significantly in recent seasons, especially on the training paddock.
“Just in the way that they train, execution and all those things have improved," he says.
“So hopefully we can keep injury free, which is a real issue for us.
“Last year in the final game we had Kade (Snowden), James McManus and Kurt Gidley missing and they are big players at this club and our guys did well without them.
"So if we can get close to our top squad on the field, we’ll win more game than not.”
Newcastle has a number of older players in their squad for 2014, but Bennett believes this experience is invaluable for the Club.
In fact, the veteran mentor says blokes like Willie Mason, Jeremy Smith and Beau Scott are particularly beneficial when dealing with emerging players.
"I love the older players, because they know how to get the job done," he enthuses.
"There is a consistency about them.
"As long as they have a hunger about them and they still want to be successful and all the older players here are like that.
"The younger players also learn more off them then they do me.
"So I encourage the older blokes to stay as long as they can.”