Newcastle coach Nathan Brown has dismissed suggestions there is a "party atmosphere" at the club that has contributed to his side's lack of wins this season, declaring his current playing group as "tame" compared to others he has coached during his career.
The Knights are under fire from all angles after five consecutive defeats has left their season on the brink with the latest claims centring on the players' alleged off-field activities impacting on performances on the field.
Fox Sports footy show NRL 360 suggested on Monday night "there is a party atmosphere at the club and a lack of leadership" that has spilled onto the field.
The program pointed to some off-season incidents and suggested players "got their priorities wrong" in the week leading up to the Knights' third round loss to Canberra because skipper Mitchell Pearce celebrated his 30th birthday the day after the game and there had been a "lot of talk all week about the party".
While he didn't deny the club may have had a boozy culture in the past, Brown said it wasn't an issue now and has nothing to do with their current predicament.
"If you'd said that to me three years ago, I'd have thought 'hard to argue'," he said when asked about the "party atmosphere" allegations.
"Two years ago, I'd have said 'can't really argue', [but] last year, I saw a significant improvement in that area and this year again, with the addition of Klem [David Klemmer] and Glaz [Tim Glasby], good, hard professionals that know how to prepare, I'd say it's as tame a group as I've coached in my life.
"Brian Canavan, [Knights director of football who spent 20 years at the Sydney Roosters] who has 30 years in the game, said it's the tamest group he's ever been involved with."
Clearly, two separate alcohol-related off-field incidents involving prop Jacob Saifiti and centre Tautau Moga are coming back to bite the club, which now has the toughest penalties for poor off-field behaviour in the NRL as a result.
"We did have one or two off-field incidents in the pre-season," Brown said.
"They happened and were dealt with probably harsher than any other club has dealt with them in the past. You lose a few games and these are the things you've got to deal with.
"As a whole, a lot of our players are really, really professional and prepare very well. If we were winning, it probably wouldn't have been raised again but when you do have a couple of incidents, these things certainly rise off the back of a performance on the weekend.
"This is what we deal with and we have to cop our medicine. This is the nature of professional sport. When you put in a performance like we did on the weekend and you've had one or two off-field incidents, you have to deal with the consequences and the consequences are things get said about you that you may not like.
"You just have to toughen up and live with it and get on with it and get out and compete on the weekend against a good Parramatta side and try and do your best to get a win.
"If you win games, it all drifts away. If you don't win games, it keeps coming."
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Brown said the heat on himself as coach comes with the territory.
"I understand there are plenty of critics out there coming at me now but I know it's not personal, it's just the job we are in," he said.
"If you lose some games and get a performance, especially like on the weekend when guys don't compete, you have to cop your medicine and a few of the players have got to cop a bit of stick along the way.
"But we front up to work, we work hard and get the players competing well and it will turn around.
"I am very confident we've got a lot of good things happening."