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Meet the 2020 coaching staff

Meet the nib Newcastle Knights coaching staff.

Head Coach Adam O'Brien has joined the Knights for his first season as Head Coach, bringing extensive premiership experience from his time as an assistant with Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm. 

His support staff includes David Furner and Willie Peters.

Furner is a veteran of the game as both a player and coach. He joins the team as an assistant.  

View the 2020 draw here!

A former Head Coach of the Canberra Raiders, Furner won a premiership as a player with the Green Machine and a title as an assistant coach with North Queensland in 2015.

He will primarily be responsible for working with the forwards in both attack and defence.

O'Brien: Roster; positions and attitude

Peters, a former halfback, joins the Knights from South Sydney where he was an assistant to Wayne Bennett and previously Anthony Seibold.


He was also previously part of the Manly NRL system.

Peters will be the back’s coach, primarily working with the attack.

The NRL coaching unit rounds out with Rory Kostjasyn, who coached the Canterbury Cup side for the past two seasons, who has been appointed Development Coach and will work closely with Coach Furner.

Eric Smith joins the Knights from the Sunshine Coast Falcons. Smith coached the Storm’s NYC side before more recently taking control of their feeder team in the Queensland Cup.

He joins the Club as a Development Coach and will work closely with Coach Peters.

Scott Dureau coached the Jersey Flegg team in 2019 but in 2020 he moves into a role as manager of the Player Development Program where he will focus on the progression of players into the senior system.

Tony Gleeson has been appointed coach of the Canterbury Cup side with Adam Bettridge promoted to head coach of the Under 20's side.

Gleeson’s appointment comes after assisting Dureau last season and previously coaching the SG Ball side.

Bettridge returns to the Knights from the local league where he headed up the Macquarie Scorpions but has previously been associated with the Knights’ pathways program.

Five key match-ups of the Knights' 2020 draw

The Junior coaches remain unchanged for next season with the Harold Matthews coached by Scott Robinson, SG Ball by Joel McCafferty and Tarsha Gale led by Josh Potapczyk.

Potapczyk has been at the helm of the women’s side since their inception in 2018 and has taken the team to back-to-back grand final appearances.  

“We have advanced tour programmed by engaging more staff with a greater breadth of experience than the club has been able to engage before,” Director of Football, Brian Canavan said.

“We have a mix of differing experiences and backgrounds.

“We have advanced the program by having more fulltime coaches in the assistants and development capacities.

“In the senior program, we’ve had the appointment of two part-time coaches who will look after the team preparation and Rory and Eric will have an individual focus on player preparation in readiness for Adam to select them in the NRL when appropriate.”

While the football department has undergone a transformation, the support staff remains relatively untouched.

Balin Cupples continues as Head of Physical Performance in what will be his second season at the Club.

Anthony Wood (Strength and Conditioning Coach) and Nathan Beutel (Strength and Power Coach) are in Cupples' High Performance team, along with Matthew Toohey, who is the NRL Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach.

James McBrien, who joined the Club last year from GWS, is the Sports Science Analyst and Peter Gourlay heads the Club's performance analytics. 

Phil Bosson, who has been with the team for several seasons, is Head Physio and supported by Louisa Cutler who joined the team in 2019 after 10 seasons with the Sydney Roosters.

In addition to the physio team is Tom Russell, who has been promoted after working with the Knights’ junior representative program on 2019.

Alex McKinnon will oversee the recruitment activities which will operate in a more holistic manner moving forward.

This means coach O’Brien and Canavan will have a greater input in the recruitment space.

McKinnon will have a strategic focus on recruitment and retention.

The Club is also pleased to welcome its new Chief Medical Officer, Dr Colinda Holmes.