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Frustrated Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien vowed to wield the axe after the Knights were "manhandled" by the Wests Tigers 36-18 in the NRL Magic Round opener in Brisbane on Friday night.

The Knights ranks have been thin with a nine-strong injury list, including Queensland star Kalyn Ponga, who became the latest casualty when he broke down with a groin complaint ahead of the Tigers clash.

Their plight was not helped when Hymel Hunt suffered a hamstring injury in the six-tries-to-four round 10 loss at Suncorp Stadium.

To boot, playmaker Kurt Mann was placed on report for a crusher tackle as the Knights crashed to their sixth loss in eight games.

But O'Brien said a change in personnel may be what was required to turn around his inconsistent club (4-6 record) who came crashing back to earth following their inspiring last round comeback win over Canberra.

"There is definitely some mental stuff there (with Knights players)," he said.

"You are not always going to have things go your way and you have to wrestle it back. 

"We are not willing to do that at the moment. Some of it will be personnel. 

"There will be some changes to this club in the next few years. It is clear. 

Match Highlights: Wests Tigers v Knights

"If we can’t get it then I have to find a way to get it through recruitment. 

“There has been 10 years of not having a whole lot of success and three wooden spoons.

"It is ingrained in us and we have got to find a way to get a winning culture in there and do what the teams do that have tasted success and are willing to put themselves through anything. 

"We have to learn that. I have seen teams in the past leave no stone unturned do that and we have to be willing to do that."

O'Brien was left shaking his head after the Knights trailed 18-0 following just 14 minutes and 24-4 by half-time.

“We were manhandled, put onto our backs and not willing to fight hard,” he said.

“We have a week where everyone is writing about our DNA and we get a response (against Canberra).

"But we have to find a way in this club to learn how to win again and what it takes week-in and week-out, whether it is a personnel thing or the standards.

“This club is used to the rollercoaster that we are on and we’ve got to get off it.”

While the Knights have been hit hard by injury, O'Brien was offering no excuses, saying he had fielded a full-strength forward pack on Friday night featuring representative players Tyson Frizell, David Klemmer and Daniel Saifiti.

Brailey sells the dummy and everyone buys

"We are under no illusion that we have to start with that physicality," he said.

"We needed to start like we finished last week but it seems as though as soon as something goes wrong we capitulate.

"We prepare really well during the week. I don’t see it coming at training during the week or in the bus on the way into the stadium but then it is there.

“I am concerned. Take the scoreboard away and we need to find a way to start with the physical parts of the game.

"There were some individuals really off tonight and it starts with your leaders. 

"Your leaders need to lead. Their number one job is to perform well. For the most part I feel like Daniel Saifiti and Jayden Brailey are contributing - it is more than those guys."

In some good news, O’Brien said Ponga and veteran playmaker Blake Green (ribs) were expected to make a return in their next round clash against North Queensland on May 20.