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The Knights in pre-season training.

Knights coach Nathan Brown has seen the alternate view and prefers his current outlook.

Brown’s first three years in Newcastle garnered back-to-back wooden spoons (2016-17) before he steered the Knights out of the basement to nine wins and 11th place last season.

Heading into his fourth Knights campaign, Brown accepts the Newcastle natives are getting restless and will demand further improvement from a bolstered squad.

The arrival of muscle men David Klemmer, Tim Glasby and James Gavet, outside backs Jesse Ramien, Edrick Lee and Hymel Hunt, and utilities Kurt Mann and Mason Lino has ramped up expectations.

How well they gel with team leaders Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga will determine whether the Knights can return to the finals for the first time since 2013.

"Expectations are higher, and from year one to two to three we went better … and now we need to make that improvement again," Brown said at a media conference on Monday.

"With good players comes expectation and with expectation there’s obviously added pressure, but I’d much rather sign David Klemmer and be under more pressure than not have him.

Brown: Best playing group we've had

"The club is certainly developing a roster which we feel can compete with the good sides, so now it’s a matter of getting some things right and putting some things in place and, like all clubs, you need some luck with your better players staying on the field for lengthy periods.

"That expectation is a good thing, but I think the expectation from within ourselves is probably higher than from people outside but that’s what professional sport is all about."

Brown will come under further scrutiny if the Knights, who host the Sharks in their season-opener and play four of their first five at home, do not burst from the blocks.

"I don’t think any coach should be judged after four or five weeks – not just myself, but any coach. I don’t think it’s fair on anyone but this is the world we live in, of outward pressure," he said.

"I’ve been coaching for a long time so you’ve just got to keep working away and hopefully you’re putting the right things in place and feel confident in what you’re doing."

The Knights were one of several NRL clubs forced to take disciplinary action against players involved in off-field incidents.

Injured centre Tautau Moga faces a common assault charge in court on March 21 after he allegedly slapped a taxi driver on Boxing Day. The Knights fined prop Jacob Saifiti $50,000 after he broke his leg when knocked out outside a Hamilton hotel in December.

Knights centre Tautau Moga.
Knights centre Tautau Moga. ©NRL Photos

Brown would not give an opinion on North Queensland’s sacking of fullback Ben Barba, or other incidents involving some of the NRL’s brightest stars, but hoped all players understood how much damage poor behaviour was doing to the game.

"I can only comment on ours, but the better behaved the players are off the field, the more money gets put into the pot for them in the long run anyway," he said.

"We certainly don’t need it, and clubs don’t need it, and the sooner all players understand the negative impact it has at their own club, the better off we’ll all be."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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