With the 2020 pre-season officially underway, it was the players first chance to impress coach Adam O’Brien.
The 2019 season ended on a sour note for the nib Newcastle Knights and their supporters, however O’Brien has his sights firmly set on improving in 2020.
According to the new coach, the groundwork for that success needs to start in the opening phase of the pre-season.
“The first six weeks is my main focus, making sure we understand how we need to prepare for the season, O’Brien said.
“I’ve said it to nauseum but getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is something I want them (the team) to embrace.
“The late fade-outs we’re a big topic at the end of the year so addressing that in our first six weeks is really important.
“Ultimately that’s what our game is, it’s a game of attrition and you want to get comfortable playing it.”
O’Brien was an assistant coach at the Sydney Roosters throughout their run to the grand final, however was quick to get to work in Newcastle once the season concluded.
O'Brien: Roster; positions and attitude
The result of that work meant that while it was day one for the playing the group, the coaching staff were already prepared for the gruelling pre-season ahead.
“I knew that it was important that we get planned and we get today right,” he said.
“I wanted to make sure the coaching staff were settled and planned and made sure we nailed this morning and then make sure we nail this afternoon.”
O’Brien has settled into the Newcastle lifestyle, and is keen to impress the supporters who fill the town.
“Everyone told me it’s a footy town, that was a big appeal for me to come here,” O’Brien said.
“I knew it was a footy town, and they’re supporters not fans.
“They’re with them with the bad times and the good, that’s a supporter. Fans will drop off pretty quick.
“Speaking to the membership people inside, we’re 1200 members more than what we were this time last year, given the way we finished last season you wouldn’t expect that number.
“You get the feeling they’re sick of the players and myself included, saying we’re going to do this, going to do that. We just need to start doing it now.”