The Newcastle Knights.

Mitchell Pearce first met Adam O'Brien five years ago as NRL rivals, separately hunting a winning edge in the unlikeliest of places.

Pearce had joined his father, former Balmain captain and ARL commissioner Wayne, at a three-day state-of-mind course in early 2015, exploring his own personality type as he bid for a return to the NSW Origin set-up and Roosters premiership glory.

O'Brien was in attendance as Craig Bellamy's then right-hand man at Melbourne, before his stint at the Roosters, taking in theories on personalities and how people react in various pressure situations.

In his first two weeks cracking the whip as the Knights new coach, his captain has O'Brien's type down to a tee.

"He's highly professional, very hard working and he's a winner," Pearce said after training in 33-degree heat on Tuesday.

"I met Adam first off at a small course about five years ago. It was my dad who got me involved in a personality course, Adam was there out of his assistant days at Melbourne and as you do we had a bit of a yarn over the course of the day.

"He was a terrific fella, that's what struck me straight away out of that meeting. Since then I've admired his coaching from a distance. First at Melbourne, the way they've set the benchmark and I know he's had a big say in that as an assistant coach.

"It's only the first couple of weeks but the biggest thing I've noticed Adam bring straight away is that winning culture. He's been involved in the last four grand finals and won two of them.

"So he knows what character, what personality it takes to create that winning mindset. He's come in really hard to start.

"He wants to challenge us mentally about the way we train and the professionalism around us players and also in the office."

Upon his arrival in Newcastle O'Brien holed up immediately with his new strength and conditioning department, crafting what most Knights players are dubbing the toughest pre-season they've encountered.

O'Brien has been hands-on throughout, joining Tuesday's skills session as a makeshift dummy-half, just as he and attack coach Willie Peters did last week.

Highly-rated Wallabies head of athletic performance Dean Benton observed those sessions at O'Brien's invitation.

Having worked previously together at Melbourne, Benton was brought in last week as a sounding board while Newcastle's senior squad was flogged through a 1.2km time trial and the infamous yo-yo tests.

NRL.com understands O'Brien also hopes to call on Knights royalty Andrew and Matty Johns throughout the 2020 season, offering a point of difference as much as anything throughout his maiden NRL campaign.

Having served under first Bellamy for over a decade, then three-time title winner Trent Robinson at his old Roosters haunt, O'Brien boasts the same thirst for innovation and relentless pursuit of perfection in Pearce's eyes.

"There's no doubt Adam would've learnt stuff off the Roosters style," Pearce said.

"Being a successful club you'd be silly not to bring stuff that you learn. There's no doubt [the] Roosters and Melbourne set the standard for the way they train, their intensity and professionalism.

"We've got a super coach who's come from only one style, and that's a winning culture.

"That's why I've got full confidence in the coach. Credit to Browny [predecessor Nathan Brown], Browny did a really good job to get us to a good level. But we've come in with new ideas and new ideas are always great.

"One thing I can say about Adam from my first two weeks with him is he's highly professional, very hard working and he's a winner."