Newcastle legend Danny Buderus is encouraged by what he saw from the Knights in an impressive Round 10 win over Canberra but has cautioned there will still be "good days and bad days."
The last-start win was only Newcastle's second of the season but it officially took them past their 2016 tally of one and for the most part they have been more competitive this year.
Buderus backed the work coach Nathan Brown was doing with what is a largely young and inexperienced squad and tipped young forwards Sione Mata'utia and Daniel Saifiti as being key men to lead Newcastle into the future.
"I reckon they would have walked away from [that win] feeling like they had a lot of energy after that game because they completed so high," Buderus told NRL.com this week at a NSW Blues Captains' Table pre-Origin event.
"They threw a bit of footy at [Canberra] but they had hardly any errors, they completed 19 from 19 at one stage in the second half and 90 per cent completions the whole game."
That would have left them plenty more energy to attack and defend compared to prior weeks, he added.
"This year they've had some games where they just can't win any possession. They played really well and they're crying for something to cheer for up there in Newcastle and there were some really good key individual performances as well," he said.
Buderus said he was hopeful star back Dane Gagai would stay at the club despite it looking increasingly unlikely the Maroons rep will be in the Hunter beyond this season. Either way Buderus was hopeful the likes of Saifiti would get some more assistance from a couple of more experienced forwards from 2018 onwards.
"Daniel Saifiti will be the one that carries that pack. It would be nice if someone could come and help him out, an older sort of statesman," Buderus said.
"But you'll have guys like Sione, I thought he had his best game for the club in that back row position and leadership obviously sits well with him.
"There were some good signs but obviously it's one game and they've got to keep consistently doing it and that's what will happen with that team, they'll have good days and bad days and [Sunday] was a good day."
Second-year coach Nathan Brown is doing his best to get the team's attack going with a fresh halves combination following the demotion of Trent Hodkinson, according to Buderus.
"He'd be looking to move forward with another little bit of attack now. Sorting his halves out, that's the best game Brock Lamb and Jaelen Feeney have had together, they looked pretty quick," he said.
"He'll probably go with those two again, Hodkinson is obviously waiting for a recall but they looked pretty fast those two and looked pretty comfortable."
Despite some poor weather keeping the Mothers' Day crowd to 11,000, the Knights have had consistently good home crowds all season despite not chalking up a lot of wins and Buderus praised the home fans for their unwavering support.
"You go around and talk to people in town and they're just really happy with the way things are going and showing some heart and some good signs around the corner," he said.