Nathan Brown is excited for the 2019 season to kick-off.
Heading into his fourth campaign in charge of the nib Newcastle Knights, the coach boasts his best roster yet.
Adding muscle to the pack with the arrival of David Klemmer, Tim Glasby and James Gavet, class in the backs in Jesse Ramien, Edrick Lee and Hymel Hunt, and versatility in Kurt Mann and Mason Lino, the squad has gone to another level.
“It’s certainly our best pre-season,” Brown said.
“We’ve got the best playing group we’ve had so that sort of comes with it.
Brown: Best playing group we've had
“We’ve got a fair number of experienced players now. If you look at the ones who aren’t as experienced, if you look at Jesse and Edrick.
“Jesse is a higher end younger player. Edrick played at Canberra when they were a game short of the grand final and then played at Cronulla last year when they were close to a grand final too.
“Those guys have been around players who can train well and prepare well.
Brown hails Mann 'Kurt Gidley 2.0'
“Klem and Glasby have played at the elite level and all know how to prepare well. They’ve had a good impact on our own homegrown players.”
With added punch to the pack and experience, comes greater expectations.
Brown is aware of the pressure but is taking it all in his strides.
"Expectations are higher, and from year one to two to three we went better … and now we need to make that improvement again," Brown said.
The battle for the No9 jersey
"With good players comes expectation and with expectation there’s obviously added pressure, but I’d much rather sign David Klemmer and be under more pressure than not have him.
"The club is certainly developing a roster which we feel can compete with the good sides, so now it’s a matter of getting some things right and putting some things in place and, like all clubs, you need some luck with your better players staying on the field for lengthy periods.
"That expectation is a good thing, but I think the expectation from within ourselves is probably higher than from people outside but that’s what professional sport is all about."