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McKinnon set to take charge of Knights recruitment

Alex McKinnon is set to take over recruitment at Newcastle as Adam O'Brien restructures the football staff before the rookie head coach's debut NRL season.

NRL.com understands long-term recruitment manager Troy Pezet will depart the club, with McKinnon in line to take charge of list management in the Hunter.

The former Dragons and Knights back-rower has been the club's head of junior recruitment for the past year, handling over 100 players from under 14s to 20s and travelling up and down the east coast as part of his scouting role.

Pezet was a controversial figure during the late-season exit of coach Nathan Brown, amid suggestions he had met with O'Brien while he was an assistant at the Roosters and Brown was still in charge at Newcastle.

As recruitment manager he played a key role in the turnaround of the club's roster, which has seen the likes of Kalyn Ponga, Mitchell Pearce and David Klemmer signed as star attractions after three straight wooden spoons between 2015 and 2017.

O'Brien officially takes charge of the Knights on Friday, but has already spent the past fortnight getting acquainted with staff across the board, in particular his strength and conditioning department.

Former Raiders coach David Furner has been installed as his right-hand man and given Newcastle's defensive reins.

Willie Peters will be in charge of the Knights' attack after having worked with Wayne Bennett at South Sydney.

It is understood Newcastle's salary cap for 2020 does not allow for any major incursions in the player market, with the club focusing its retention efforts on NSW prop Daniel Saifiti, centre Hymel Hunt and rising back-rower Mitch Barnett.