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Getting to know our new General Manager of Performance

The nib Newcastle Knights led a huge recruitment drive in the off-season, and it wasn't necessarily chasing after NRL players.

The Club recruited a host of new staff members including renowned physical performance Manager, Hayden Knowles.

Possessing unparalleled experience in the game, which includes recent premiership and State of Origin success with the Penrith Panthers and NSW Blues, Knowles was heavily sought after to take up an historic role.

Knowles' official role at the Club is Group General Manager of Performance, which is an NRL-first.

On the latest edition of the KNIGHTS // HQ Podcast, we catch up with the newly appointed Performance Coach to talk about his new surroundings and what he plans to bring to the table.

“Adam (O'Brien) was pretty clear that he wanted that role (for me), and more so as one of his coaches,” Knowles said on the KNIGHTS // HQ Podcast.

“I think Bedsy (Danny Buderus) may have told him how I work with Freddy (Brad Fittler) in those (Origin) camps, which is that kind of role.

“But then also this role at the Club, what Phillip Gardner has set up, is a General Manager of Performance across the whole group.

“Obviously my day-to-day is NRL with Adam and his staff, but also to care about the whole Club.

"(For example), the pathways, I’m meeting a couple of NRLW players to talk about their career here. My job is to care about the whole Club which I now have the staff that are doing that.”

Adding to his appointment, the Club has also recruited an incredible list of coaches and former players.

Names such as Andrew Johns, Garth Brennan, Blake Green, Danny Buderus, Kurt Gidley along with current crop of staff including O'Brien, Rory Kostjasyn, Willie Peters and Eric Smith, are all on board aiming towards success and development.

Knowles spoke at length about the staff that has been brought together and their prodigious experiences, while also stating his vision for the Knights.

“This Club has a real opportunity to be the best development Club in the league,” Knowles said.

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“I’ve just come from a very good development Club that do things very well.

“We have an opportunity here, in particular with the women’s game, to do things at the top of the league."

“I know they’ve just appointed Garth Brennan as the Head of Pathways, who I’ve worked with before. His total focus is on the pathways.

“I think there is something special in that area and there is a big picture happening.”

Knowles has spent time at the Sydney Roosters, Gold Coast Titans, Parramatta Eels and most recently at the Penrith Panthers.

He said he was elated to now join the Knights. 

“My first impressions of the Club have been first-class,” Knowles continued.

“I live quite locally on the Central Coast, so it’s always been really the perfect job for me to be honest.”

“The history of this Club is fantastic and now to be apart of it.

“I got offered a job here twice before but the timing wasn’t right.

“And then it all happened on the Sunshine Coast.”

Listen to the full episode HERE to hear more about how it all came together on the Sunshine Coast, his lunch with legendary football manager Sir Alex Ferguson, his best seat in the house for a memorable Origin moment and much, much more.