Solid start unsurprising to Knights
Before a whistle was blown in 2015, the Newcastle Knights were a squad chockfull of confidence with the world at their feet and coach Rick Stone once again back at the helm.
While the season may only be two rounds old, the Knights head into their match with the Gold Coast on Sunday as one of only four undefeated teams in the competition and are showing plenty of signs of improvement.
Newcastle has come from two tries behind in both of their fixtures this season – against the Warriors in Round 1 and the Cowboys last weekend.
Their ability to comeback against more fancied opponents is a sign of the confidence currently being enjoyed in Newcastle.
"Stoney has created this really relaxed environment while also making sure we've been doing all the hard stuff as well," James McManus told NRL.com.
"We haven't taken any shortcuts and everyone has been working really hard which is good to see.
"Usually in a relaxed environment you will see people taking shortcuts, but that hasn't been the case. We are just enjoying one another's company and training which is translating into results."
The Knights have embraced the minimal expectations placed on them as they look to make it three wins from three games to begin the year for the first time since 2006.
"I like flying under the radar. We know what we have achieved in the pre-season and we know where we are heading," McManus said.
"I have so much confidence in our team for this season."
Off-contract prop Kade Snowden is one of many Knights who have lifted his game to new heights under Stone's new regime.
Averaging 141.5 metres and 33.5 tackles per game, Snowden has been playing with much more freedom under Stone and he credits Newcastle's younger squad for his increased output.
"We do have a very young squad which has been good. They have been competing and they all want one of those 17 spots," Snowden told NRL.com.
"That's probably been the best bit about training – everyone is training really hard. The young fellas aren't taking it easy on us older fellas either which has been really good."