Nathan Brown has publicly taken the blow-torch to individual players and issued a blanket warning to his squad to improve their discipline in the wake of Friday night’s loss to Penrith.
Newcastle remain in 10th spot on the premiership ladder but have slipped two points out of the top eight after their 29-18 defeat which the Knights coach blamed on ill-discipline at key moments.
Since taking the coaching reins, Brown has generally been protective of his players, sighting their youth and inexperience during a period that saw them collect two wooden spoons and struggle to be competitive in several games.
But it is clear his patience with the development of the squad he is rebuilding is starting to wear thin.
After the side’s round nine loss to South Sydney, he dumped four players including co-captain Jamie Buhrer in the biggest selection shake-up since taking over.
He followed that up after the Penrith loss by publicly calling out Connor Watson, Daniel Saifiti and Josh King for individual examples of poor discipline which he claims is killing the side’s chances of consistently winning games.
He said the Panthers game was won and lost on the penalty Watson gave away that cost the Knights a try in the first half and his line-break error that led to a runaway Penrith try just minutes later.
”That’s where the game was won and lost,”he said.
“We’ve got a lot of 25,35, 40 gamers at the moment and if you look at Connor for example, he had some great stuff tonight and then he comes up with giving that penalty away when we score that try.
“So all the good stuff just comes undone.
“Josh King - first game of the year - he had some really good stuff but he gives two tackle five penalties away.
“Daniel Saifiti coming out of trouble - two dropped balls. It’s not first grade football when you do that but at the end of the day, they are all 30 or 40 gamers, who, I suppose, are finding their way.”
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Brown claimed the ill-discipline of some players was having a deflating effect on the rest of the team.
“They’ve got to understand what they are doing to the team when they do those poor acts of discipline, whether it be in yardage dropping the ball, or in Connor’s situation,” he said.
“Every week, we’ve got a couple of blokes that are doing that and that’s why we are on 10 points and why we haven’t won more games.
“When those things go against us, it’s deflating for the boys and we don’t respond well.
“At the end of the day, we still really are a developing team and we are sitting here today 5 and 5 and it probably reflects how we are going.”
“We never got beaten by any dummies but again, it’s just the way in which we lost that disappointed me.
“The games we have won this year where we have defended well, we have defended well because we never had players that had those really bad moments.
“If we can get the effort we got tonight and get some people with their discipline a bit better and not have those flat periods, I think we can win our share of games on the way home.”