Future bright as young players grow
Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown and co-captain Jeremy Smith spoke to the media following Saturday's two-point defeat at Jubilee Oval.
Coach Nathan Brown spoke about the desperately narrow loss as well as the overall development of the young team throughout season 2016.
"It was disappointing," he said.
"We had a little period in the second half there where we took a couple of poor options when we were in the position to win the game at 26 all.
"We ran it on the last at 26-all off the back of a good set when we should have kicked for field position and backed our defence.
"We dropped it on play two in front of the posts then set up for a field goal and played to the wrong kicker with the wrong foot.
"There's plenty of things that didn't work out for us but that's where we are as a team and that's why we did lose those close games when we got in those situations."
An important aspect for Brown is that the emerging players have learned some tough but valuable lessons from the year.
"I'm happy with the development of a lot of the younger players," he said.
"We will start training at the start of November and we will be far better position than when we were at the start of November this year.
"At the start of this year and the Club got he wooden spoon the year before and the Club lost twelve to fourteen hundred games of experience and we only brought Hodko in (Trent Hodkinson).
"Now we have introduced a lot of younger kids and we have let players go and we are way under the salary cap so we are in a far better position now than what we were this time last year and that's what the objective of this year was."
A pleasing aspect was the fact the top performances in the game came from some of the team's youngest.
"The best front rower on the field today was clearly Daniel Saifiti by a long stretch and he's 19-years of age," he said.
"Jacob (Saifiti) and Sione and he's a 19-year-old backrower at the end of the day.
"Those younger players are really starting to find their way and it's the coaching staff's job to put the right people around the players and that's the key of what we have to do so the club can continue to develop."
Meanwhile co-captain and Club veteran Jeremy Smith played his final match in the NRL.
The experienced workhorse forward feels the future of the Club is strong with a raft of young players coming through the ranks.
"The two twins (Jacob and Daniel Saifiti) are going to be great players," he said.
"Sione (Mata'utia) and Mitch Barnett, they still have plenty of learning to but still plenty more to give.
"The Club is in pretty good hands and will have fairly tough pre-season on their hands this year.
"Just watching them grow from young boys top young men has been the highlight."
Smith hangs up the boots after playing 214 NRL games.