Newcastle co-captain Jamie Buhrer has declared it's time for the Knights players to repay the club's coaching and back-room staff after the biggest recruitment drive in the club's history.
The Knights will begin their new era - charged with up to nine new recruits and their own exciting juniors - in Friday evening's first-round clash with Manly in front of a likely sold-out McDonald Jones Stadium.
Buhrer was sold the vision of the up-and-coming Knights by coach Nathan Brown and football manager Darren Mooney in 2016, and has since seen Mitchell Pearce, Kalyn Ponga, Connor Watson and Aidan Guerra join him.
"Browny and Moons have held up their end of the bargain at this point," Buhrer told AAP.
"From what I've seen this pre-season the calibre of players that Browny and Moons had a vision of bringing has come to fruition so far. And I dare say they're not done.
"It's time for the players and myself included to go out and put in strong performances."
Buhrer was part of the first wave of players convinced to move to the club just under 18 months ago, and captained the team in a number of games last year.
A one-time NSW State of Origin player, Buhrer left his boyhood club Manly to join a team that had claimed two consecutive wooden spoons at the time and won just one game the previous season.
He is wary not to talk up the squad's potential given they are yet to achieve anything in his eyes, but said Mooney's role in the promoting the club to prospective players couldn't be understated.
"They certainly said they had a vision to build a team, and a team of players that wanted to play for the team and the town," Buhrer said.
"They understood it wasn't just about coming up the highway for money.
"What grows on people is just their honesty. Their honesty of where the club is at, their honesty of where they want to go.
"There's no beating around the bush. You just have faith in what they're doing."
Meanwhile, Johnathan Thurston wants his North Queensland teammates to forget about his 300th NRL match on Friday night and focus on the task at hand - beating Cronulla.
Thurston admits he was "looked after" by the NRL after the Cowboys' season-opener was scheduled at 1300SMILES Stadium in Townsville instead of an away fixture.
That's where he wants the special treatment to end.
"If I or the boys are thinking, 'Let's do it for JT', we'll be sadly mistaken and copping a hiding on Friday night," Thurston told reporters on Monday.
"For us it's about preparing the best that we can and making sure every individual turns up."
Thurston was left stranded on 299 games when he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in June last year.
The 34-year-old managed to patch it together to play in Queensland's miraculous State of Origin II win but was unable to return for the Cowboys and underwent a full shoulder reconstruction.
He has already retired from representative rugby league and will hang up the boots for good at the end of the 2018 season.
"Even though it's a big week for myself, we can't lose focus of what's important and making sure everyone's preparing as best as we can," Thurston said.
"Hopefully we can kick-start our season with a win but I'm sure the Sharkies have other plans."
Thurston said he has full confidence in his shoulder after putting it to the test in two pre-season hit-outs against Wests Tigers and Melbourne.
He expects it to be targeted by a Cronulla side that will be hell-bent on revenge after North Queensland knocked them out of last year's NRL finals series in the first round.
"While I've still got a lot to work on, I thought I took a giant leap in the Melbourne game," Thurston said.
"I got knocked over with the ball and trampled a few times.
"Certainly that's given me confidence and no doubt I'm sure they'll be throwing plenty of tackles at me."
The Cowboys will reportedly be without fullback Lachlan Coote, who injured his hamstring against the Storm.
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