KNIGHTS officials have no complaints about a 2017 fixture list they hope will be welcomed by players and fans alike.
In contrast to last season, when their players were handicapped by two five-day turnarounds in the first nine weeks, and four of their first five games being on the road, next year there appear no such anomalies.
In the draw released on Thursday by the NRL, which locks in the schedule from rounds one to 20, the shortest span between Newcastle’s games is six days.
Two of their first three games are at home, as are four of their first seven and five of the first 10.
They play host to traditional drawcards such as South Sydney, Canterbury, Brisbane and Melbourne, as well as premiers Cronulla for Old Boys day, in the last preliminary round of 2017.
“Compared to last season, which wasn’t ideal, from our point of view it’s a good draw,’’ Newcastle chief executive Matt Gidley told the Herald.
“I think in terms of player welfare, we don’t have any five-day turnarounds, which is obviously a positive.
“We’ve got a good mix of games and the teams we’re playing at home include some of the big teams our fans like to get out and watch, like the Rabbitohs, Bulldogs and Broncos.
“There’s a good balance in terms of scheduling, as well. There are a couple of Friday night six o’clock games, which will be interesting to see how they go, as well as some Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon games.
“So all in all, we’re really happy with the draw and hopefully our fans are, too.’’
The one standout setback was that Newcastle’s opening game of 2017 will be a daunting assignment away against the Warriors at Mount Smart Stadium.
Newcastle have won just once in their past 11 visits to Auckland, and in those games have conceded 312 points and scored 162, for an average scoreline of 28.3 to 14.7.
The Knights will be hoping to bury their trans-Tasman hoodoo and, at the same time, snap a club-record 18-gane losing streak that dates back to round seven last season.
The season will kick off on Thursday, March 2, when Cronulla host the Broncos at Shark Park.
Newcastle’s clash with the Warriors will be a 2pm (AEST) kick-off three days later.