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Knights coach Adam O'Brien.

Newcastle have locked coach Adam O'Brien in on a two-year extension with halfback Mitchell Pearce also set to take up a reduced one-year offer before the Knights' 2021 campaign kicks off.

In a busy week for the Hunter club, their first-time NRL coach has now been tied up until the end of 2024.

Teenage centre Bradman Best has an upgraded contract for the same period in the final stages of negotiations, with Newcastle moving quickly to keep their most prized figures off the market long term.

In O'Brien's case his extension comes on top of his original contract through until the end of 2022, and sees him join Titans counterpart Justin Holbrook as the only NRL coaches with their futures sorted so far down the track.

Pearce meanwhile will return from a broken thumb in Saturday's trial against Melbourne, his first since giving up the club captaincy in the wake of his off-season texting incident involving a former Knights employee.

O’Brien on Pearce, Ponga and why Klemmer was overlooked

The 31-year-old will continue contract talks following the hit-out with a sign-off on the cards for next week.

Pearce is facing a significant pay cut given the four-year deal he originally signed to join Newcastle in 2018 has him slated to earn just under $1 million this year.

A reduced 2022 extension offer was tabled recently to Pearce's advisor Tristan Hay, with the Knights insistent throughout negotiations that the star half is still wanted at the club given the drama around the former NSW playmaker this summer.

The key player signings to watch in 2021

For O'Brien, his new deal scuppers suggestions of a return to Melbourne to succeed Craig Bellamy when his old mentor hangs up the clipboard.

Starting out at Newcastle after acting as Roosters assistant in their 2019 grand final triumph, O'Brien overcame a brutal injury toll to return the Knights to finals football for the first time in seven seasons last year.

"I’ve been really pleased with our overall progression since I joined the club back in November 2019," O’Brien said.

"We identified key areas to strengthen, we developed a strategy to make that transition and then targeted the right people to execute those plans.

"I’m really pleased with the people we have under the roof.

"We’ve brought in several key staff members to complement our existing team, some great recruits, and key retentions. And we have an ongoing strategy designed to ensure our list remains highly competitive. I’m really proud they chose us, just like our members."

Newcastle have added Kangaroos and Origin star Tyson Frizell to their roster for 2021 in a further endorsement of the club's rising status.

The Knights' 2020 season in review

A captaincy replacement for Pearce is also set to be announced next week.

CEO Phil Gardner said securing O'Brien for the long-term helps ensure the club's direction over the next few seasons, "and hopefully many more years after that".

"Adam is an outstanding coach and an outstanding person, and everyone at the club is delighted that he will be our head coach for a further two seasons," he said.

“This is an ideal outcome for everyone, it provides great personal security for Adam and his wife Sharyn and it means that we can continue to build the foundations required for the club to be consistently successful.

"Adam‘s continued growth and evolution as a coach confirms he is the right person to lead the Newcastle Knights now and into the future."

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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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