WIN, lose or draw their NRL season opener, Knights coach Nathan Brown has no doubt his team will be better next week, and the week after that, and the week after that, and so on.
A new-look Newcastle team, featuring seven off-season imports, will kick off their 2019 campaign when they host long-time bogey side Cronulla at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night.
While Brown is delighted to read names such as David Klemmer, Tim Glasby, Jesse Ramien, Edrick Lee, James Gavet, Kurt Mann and Hymel Hunt on his team sheet, he expects the Knights will proceed to function more efficiently the longer they have played together.
"I'd be looking for a pretty positive performance tomorrow night," Brown said on Thursday. "But in 10 weeks time, I'd like to think that as a team, and in our combinations, that there would be some improvement."
A parochial crowd of close to 25,000 is expected, weather permitting, and Brown was confident of giving them reason to cheer, just as Newcastle did in round one last year by beating arch-rivals Manly 19-18 in a golden-point thriller.
"You want to win every time you play, whether it's round one or whatever round it is," Brown said.
"But whichever sides win round one, it doesn't guarantee you're going to have a great year, and if you lose it doesn't mean a bad year, either.
- READ MORE: Newcastle Knights news
"But you certainly want to show some signs of what type of team you want to be, and we'd be hopeful of putting in a performance tomorrow that would suggest we're moving forward."
To open their season with a win, the Knights will need to overcome a team who have ruthlessly dominated them since 2015. Cronulla have won eight consecutive NRL games against Newcastle by a combined scoreline of 281-78, or 35-10 on average. They also outplayed them 30-6 in a trial game in Maitland earlier this month.
Brown admitted Newcastle have struggled to compete against "sides with good, hard, experienced forwards" during his previous three seasons at the helm, in particular the Sharks, Melbourne and Sydney Roosters.
"But now with the guys we've added, and the experience our own guys have gained and where they're at physically, we feel like that's an area where we can compete a lot better," he said.
"We'd like to think we can make them [Cronulla] have a different opinion to certainly what they've had over the last three years."
Brown said his players needed to improve their ball security and teamwork.
"Regardless of Dave Klemmer being at the club, and [Tim] Glasby and these blokes that have certainly improved our roster, on paper, and with reputation, there's still an element of the game that you have to deliver on the field," Brown said.
"Regardless of how good those guys have been in the past, or were on the day - and some of them were good in the Cronulla game - collectively you need a large group of players getting the basics of the game right to give yourself a chance.
"If we thought the NRL was going to be easy because we've got better players, that [thought] was probably taken away from us there."
The Knights capped their final ball-work session with an initiation ceremony, in which the seven newcomers were required to sing in front of their amused teammates.
While you’re with us, did you know The Herald is now offering breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up-to-date with all the local news - sign up here.