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Lachlan Fitzgibbon (left) after the win over Brisbane.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s Lachlan Fitzgibbon was only a young bloke sitting on the hill and cheering on the Knights as they charged towards the finals each year, which at the time felt like the norm.

Last year Fitzgibbon and the Knights reached the finals for the first time in seven seasons, and many pundits have the Hunter club on the rise again in 2021.

However, if Newcastle are to reach the finals again in 2021 they'll have to snap a streak that has lasted 17 years.

Not since 2003 has the club finished in the top eight in back-to-back seasons, the longest drought in the NRL.

Their best opportunity, when they were dubbed premiership favourites in 2012 after finishing eighth the previous year, ended in disaster with an underwhelming 12th-place finish.

While the history books are made to be broken, Fitzgibbon is wary of getting too confident after years of underachievement at the club.

Analysing the Knights' 2021 draw

The 27-year-old will enter the 2021 Telstra Premiership season as the longest-serving player at the Knights after Sione Mata'utia departed for St Helens last year.

He's been through hell and back having started his NRL career in 2015 with three wooden spoons.

"It's been good to come out the other side of those tough years but the most important thing now is we do better than last year," Fitzgibbon told

"Although it was super exciting last year to make the finals for the first time in so long, it wasn't enough for a lot of us.

Knights' top five tries of 2020

"We're here to win premierships, not just make the semis. We started from rock bottom, from coming last to making the finals and now hopefully we can keep climbing towards winning a premiership."

A demoralising 46-20 loss to the Rabbitohs in last year's qualifying final put an end to the club's inconsistent campaign and reminded the group of what it takes to remain a yearly force in the competition.

Fitzgibbon has welcomed the addition of Tyson Frizell on the right edge, while he's already cleared the air over any concerns he won't be able to work with Mitchell Pearce after the former captain's latest off-field woes.

"We have lost a few players and a fair bit of experience with guys like Aidan Guerra and Tim Glasby but there's a core group of boys who have been here for a while and then an influx of young players," Fitzgibbon said.

"The form of Daniel Saifiti and Jacob, they've grown in lengths, then you've got Klem [David Klemmer], Friz and Mitch Barnett – it's a pretty formidable forward pack but I think it's about being consistent every week."

Fitzgibbon said he would approach the upcoming season like any other despite being one of 12 players coming off contract at the club this season.

Frizell 'starting again' with Knights

"Newcastle is where I've grown up and the team I've supported since I was a young fella so I wouldn't want to leave at all," he said.

"I want to let my footy do the talking and see what happens. For me personally, it's important to have a consistent year and play my best footy.

"There were a few times last year I was mixed with my form and that contributed poorly to the team's form."