Satisfaction still a long way off: Knights
While the Newcastle Knights are more than happy with their 4-0 start to the season, it doesn't mean they still aren't chasing improvement following their 26-14 win over competition heavyweights the Panthers on Saturday afternoon.
The sole ladder-leaders in the NRL Telstra Premiership, coach Rick Stone and his players know there is still plenty to achieve if the Knights are to be considered premiership threats.
Regardless, their progress so far in 2015 is an exponential improvement on last season.
Where it took Newcastle until Round 16 in 2014 – a 16-10 win over the Eels– to record their fourth win of the year, 12 months later the Knights have achieved that within the first month of the season.
Throw into the mix how Newcastle have won their past six matches and their last seven at Hunter Stadium and all signs are showing the Novocastrians are moving in the right direction.
"Everyone is experiencing a high at the moment," Newcastle centre Dane Gagai told NRL.com.
"But in saying that it is still early on in the season. We're not getting too far ahead of ourselves and we'll keep trying to better ourselves each week because I don't think we have played the best footy we possibly can.
"It's definitely a good feeling being around Newcastle at the moment though. When you win four from four it makes you proud to be a Novocastrian. It makes you hold your head high and makes the fans and the town happy. That's who we do it for at the end of the day."
Newcastle back-rower Chris Houston, who was a late inclusion in the starting team following Robbie Rochow's withdrawal moments before the Knights' warm up on Saturday, agreed with Gagai in that there is plenty of improvement to come.
Making the point of the Knights' familiarity with returning coach Rick Stone in previous years, Houston added the way they have kicked off their season hasn't been unexpected.
"[Our start to the year] blows my mind in a way but we have the same squad as last year and having known Rick Stone for a long time helps," Houston told NRL.com.
"We're just building off the back of last year, where if you look at how we went, we were playing some decent footy then as well.
"While it's nice we are winning, we aren't really playing the way that we have been wanting to though and that's all we are really concentrating on – to improve each week."
With the previously undefeated South Sydney losing to the Eels on Friday night, Newcastle captain Kurt Gidley insisted there was no chatter about going solo on the top of the table before their win over the Panthers.
"It's wonderful to be four from four and to play in front of our home fans," Gidley said.
"It's great to be at the top of the table sure but I haven't and won't be jumping on my phone to check the ladder anytime soon."
What was important for Gidley though was to earn a bit more respect from rugby league pundits across the country.
The veteran fullback is chasing appreciation from others, in Newcastle's quest for improvement.
"Each win now, especially after [beating Penrith], we'll hopefully start to get a bit of respect," Gidley said. "It's about time we be taken a bit more fair dinkum."