Knights remain patient on recruitment front
Knights coach Nathan Brown admits the club have missed the opportunity to sign a couple of high quality players but will remain patient in the recruitment process despite a horrid injury toll building.
The Novocastrians have lost hard-working forwards Jamie Buhrer (foot) and Mitchell Barnett (ankle) in recent weeks for an extended period in another cruel blow in their quest to avoid a third-consecutive wooden spoon.
Knights skipper Trent Hodkinson has been demoted to the Intrust Super Premiership in a bid to rebuild confidence from an ongoing knee complaint.
The 28-year-old's halves partner Jarrod Mullen is the highest paid player at the club and was missing from the line-up before a ball had even been kicked this season and new recruit Rory Kostjaysn faces a long rehabilitation process following a throat injury suffered in the pre-season.
Cowboys prodigy Kalyn Ponga is their only signing for the 2018 season so far after the club missed out on Sharks centre Jack Bird with the Brisbane Broncos swooping in at the last minute.
"We are certainly in a strong financial position, whether something falls or not before June 30, I’m not too sure but we've just got to be patient to make sure we get the right people," Brown said on recruitment.
"The club has gone through a lot, the fans have gone through a lot, the last thing we want to do is to react just because we've missed 'player X' and pay a lot of money for someone who is not going to take the club forward.
"The town deserves a good team."
Experience is the key moving forward for the Knights after losing a plethora of campaigners in the last three seasons reducing their on-field game experience to just 534 Telstra Premiership games in their starting 13 that played the Cowboys on Saturday night.
To put it in perspective, Cowboys back-rower Gavin Cooper has played 244 games – almost half of the entire Knights line-up.
"We certainly know we need to find some experience but whether we get six or seven players or three or four players, that will determine by who will be available," Brown responded.
"What would be more frustrating is paying for someone that's not going to take the club back to where it was 10 years ago.
"If we hold our nerve long enough, I'm sure we'll get it right, it just won't happen tomorrow."
Roosters winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall has been linked to the club and Brown admitted he is someone that could help the rebuilding phase.
"We have had a couple of chats, he is one player that is off-contract, he's got a number of things that tick the box for us and he's very experienced," he said.
"He has won a World Cup, a grand final and he's also been at the Roosters when they were down at the bottom and what's required to help get it back up high.
"He is also a player that wants to help younger players and he's a big outside back and we feel while we've got some very good outside backs, we'd also like to have one or two bigger ones.
"Where it all ends up we don’t know but he's certainly a player that we have some interest in that’s for sure."
One player the Knights were hopeful of keeping was in-form centre Dane Gagai.
Off-contract at season's end, the 26-year-old has been a standout for the club and produced his best performance in three years against the Bulldogs in Round 6 with 225 metres and eight tackle breaks.
"I know 'Gags' (Gagai) is happy here and his family is happy here so we'll just have to wait and see but there is no time frame, these things always work themselves out," Brown said.
"I couldn't sit here and guarantee that he will do one thing or another but I know he does like Newcastle, he understands what it is all about and his partner and young one are happy, his mum and dad are here, his brother is here so he's very happy here.
"From our point of view we'd love Gags to stay and I know he is more keen on the idea of staying so we'd have to say we're definitely in with a decent chance anyway."
The Knights' on-field focus will be on the Titans this week, a side they beat back in Round 2 and ironically, a side that were able to pick up the likes of Jarryd Hayne, Nathan Peats and Konrad Hurrell midway through last season on the back of remaining patient in their recruitment drive.