Knights five-eighth Mason Lino could be sidelined for up to six months and may miss the start of next season with the crack goalkicker set to go under the knife to have a shoulder reconstruction.
But rather than chase a replacement five-eighth, the position that proved a real headache for the club last season, it's understood outstanding young rookies Phoenix Crossland and Simi Sasagi will be given first chance to partner Mitchell Pearce in the halves next season along with Connor Watson and Kurt Mann.
Instead of another playmaker, new coach Adam O'Brien is said to have made securing a top-class strike centre his major recruitment goal during the off-season.
The sudden availability of versatile Jack Bird from the Broncos is interesting as he can play in both positions but the early mail is he wants to sign with a Sydney club. He is also coming off a knee reconstruction which may dampen any local enthusiasm.
O'Brien's search for an established centre is in contrast to former coach Nathan Brown, whose number one target was a backrower.
The club has been in talks with Sharks' Kurt Capewell but we're told his asking price has been too high and he's been linked to the Warriors.
Incoming coach Adam O'Brien is bringing a real Melbourne Storm-feel to the Knights with suggestions the club's football department will be far better resourced than ever before.
It appears the Wests' football budget is being stretched to the limit to ensure every base is covered for O'Brien's arrival.
Along with new assistant coaches David Furner and Willie Peters, the club will employ a new transition/pathways coach in ex-Storm lower grade coach Eric Smith, who will work alongside Rory Kostjasyn, who steps up from NSW Cup coach.
Significantly, there is also talk the Knights will have a full-time wrestling coach for the first time and a full-time kicking coach as well as a part-time sports psychologist and referees' coach.
The NSW Cup and Jersey Flegg coaching jobs look like being part-time roles with Scott Dureau to become head of junior development. Alex McKinnon will also step up into a full-time role in development.
It's another example of the fickle nature of the NRL's player market.
A week or two back, Danny Levi was getting ready to pack his bags to head to Sydney's west, believing a deal with the Parramatta Eels was virtually over the line. But then it suddenly fell through.
This week, the Knights hooker's manager has been up north for talks with the Gold Coast Titans. Knights officials remain confident the contracted Levi will find a new home before too long.
Little more than a month ago, Herman Ese'ese was thought to be headed to Belmore to relieve salary cap pressure at the Knights next season with only the length of the contract being haggled over.
The Bulldogs were offering two years but Ese'ese wanted three. But now it appears the former Kiwi international may be going nowhere after all. With winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall departing for Hull KR, the need to unload Ese'ese has apparently eased somewhat with coach O'Brien said to be a big fan of his ability.
If another club makes a big play for him, there is no guarantee the Knights won't let him go but it's starting to look more and more likely Ese'ese will now see out the final year of his contract.
Over the line
Knights Origin prop Daniel Saifiti and centre Hymel Hunt have both been tied up by the club for a further two years and newly crowned dual Danny Buderus Medalist Mitch Barnett will be the next current player to re-sign.
Barnett has held two meetings with CEO Phil Gardner and expects to have his future finalised within weeks.
New assistant coach David Furner won't be the only family member working for the Knights next season.
His wife Kellie, previously in administration with the Men of League Foundation, will be shortly starting work in the club's expanding community programs space.
It was after his side's embarrassing 57-0 loss to Western Suburbs in front of the club's Old Boys two weeks out from the Newcastle league finals that Cessnock coach Todd Edwards unloaded privately and publicly on his players.
He ripped into them in the sheds after the game and then told the Cessnock Advertiser that players "showed me they didn't want to be there" and pre-empted a roster clean-out and big pay cuts if the club again failed to make the finals for the fourth straight year.
With a must-win final round clash against second-placed South Newcastle at Townson Oval on Sleapy's Day left before the semifinals, Edwards' spray was either going to galvanise the team or turn them completely against the coach.
"To be honest, it was a gamble because I didn't know how they'd react," Edwards said. "But it probably needed to be said and we managed to get through to the group and the penny dropped just in time."
The Goannas won four sudden death games on the bounce after that and now face the ultimate challenge of taking on the same Rosellas outfit that destroyed them that day in tomorrow's grandfinal.
Wests are hot favourites and could potentially walk away with an unprecedented four grandfinal wins which would be an outstanding achievement.
Edwards, who will be in Sydney only a matter of hours before kick-off tomorrow at a training session for his Australian Universities squad, respects the amount of talent in the Wests' team and recognises his side has a mountain to climb. But he promises his players won't be short of belief when they take the field.
Wests '99 reunion
Some big name former premiership-winning Rosellas players will be at McDonald Jones Stadium tomorrow when Tony Price's Class of 1999 gather for a 20 year reunion of their controversial 22-18 grandfinal triumph over Cessnock.
Price, who was KO'd by Cessnock's Jason Hoogerwerf early in the first half of that decider, has organised the get-together.
There'll no doubt be a big roll up with the likes of Jarrod O'Doherty, Tony Hutton, Andrew Taylor. Paul Skovgaard, Scott Bradley and Ryan Dagwell playing a big part in Wests' third straight title win under Price.