From Craig Bellamy to Cooper Cronk to Matty Johns - already a host of big names have showered praise on Adam O'Brien as the perfect coaching pick to take the Newcastle Knights to the next level in the post-Nathan Brown re-build era.
Now Sydney Roosters premiership-winning coach Trent Robinson has broken his silence on O'Brien's appointment to add even more weight to a growing list of endorsements.
The Roosters boss and his staff officially farewelled O'Brien yesterday with the ex-Melbourne Storm and Roosters coaching assistant likely to be in Newcastle within the next week to begin preparations for 2020.
He has spent the past 12 months working as Roosters' attacking coach and despite the controversy and cloak of secrecy surrounding his elevation to the top job at the Knights, his move into a head coaching role has come as no real surprise to Robinson.
"You want coaches with ambition and Adam's got that and he felt like Newcastle was an ideal spot for him,"Robinson told us. "Being a country boy at heart and with an opportunity for success up there, he felt like Newcastle fitted his ideal spot."
As for what he will bring to the table, Robinson said:
"He is very diligent, really well schooled on the right principles, the team will have a really strong training ethic and they'll be knowledgeable about what he wants from them. Adam will be really clear in that regard and he presents well."
Himself a former assistant coach of the Knights, Robinson admitted he wrapped Newcastle in a couple of conversations with O'Brien.
"We spoke when he signed at the time and one other time about Newcastle," he said.
"We've tried to park it as much as possible but in a couple of different conversations, we definitely talked about the place. You know my thoughts on Newcastle as a place and a club - I loved it up there and I've got some really fond memories of my time there."
As for the challenge awaiting O'Brien, Robinson said there is big up-side.
"All NRL jobs have their challenges wherever you go but you look for up-side - can I develop a club, is it in a good position, can I add value to it and is there a future," he said. "Well, we all know Newcastle's got that so he'll get ready for that.
"Browny [ex-coach Nathan Brown] has done a good job there in getting it into a really stable position and Kalyn Ponga's there, Mitchell Pearce's there, David Klemmer's there so there's a really strong foundation and a good opportunity to continue the rise."
Western Suburbs officials have given their number one coaching target Rick Stone more time to make a decision on his future.
Stone, who will be in charge of Lebanon in the World Nines next week, is hoping to know by the end of this weekend if anything comes of a few irons in the fire with NRL clubs.
He has been mindful of not holding the Rosellas back from announcing a replacement for Matt Lantry and spoke to the club yesterday about pulling out for that reason. Instead, he was told he could have more time.
How that impacts on recruitment remains to be seen. The premiers have already lost the Langbridge brothers to Maitland and we are hearing Pat Mata'utia and Chad O'Donnell are also headed to the Pickers along with Kurri's Jerome Haynes.
On the move
While there is growing speculation contracted Knights prop James Gavet will end up in England sooner rather than later, most likely at Simon Woolford's Huddersfield, unwanted hooker Danny Levi's move is far less certain.
With no takers as yet after the Eels bailed out of a deal at the last minute, Levi is now at short odds to kick off pre-season training next month with the Knights.
As a player, there was never anything conventional about Nathan Ross so not much surprises us when it comes to the flamboyant ex-Knights winger. But this news did.
We're reliably told Ross has applied to Newcastle uni to study nursing next year.
Doogs' amazing generosity
Mark Hughes and Adam MacDougall have been great mates since their playing days at the Knights.
But their relationship has gone well past just plain mateship since Hughes was diagnosed with brain cancer and made it his mission to do everything in his power to fight the hideous disease by establishing his own foundation to raise money for research and patient care.
Front and centre of the Foundation's fund-raising endeavours since then has been MacDougall and his wife Belinda.
In an extraordinary show of support and generosity, the creators of the booming health and weight-loss juggernaut, The Man Shake, have donated more than a whopping $500,000 to the cause since Hughes kicked his foundation off in 2013.
"Doogs and Belinda have been absolutely amazing and I can't thank them enough for their support," Hughes told us.
"They have put $100,000 each time into our past three treks and were supporting us even before that."
Hughes and 18 others including the likes of ex-Knights Danny Buderus, Stephen Crowe and Brad Godden, Sydney Roosters premiership-winning coach Trent Robinson and former Roosters and Titans fullback Michael Gordon leave Sydney on Tuesday on their latest trekking adventure - climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
The party is aiming to raise $600,000 and have already surpassed the $515,000 mark.
"It will be our toughest challenge yet," Hughes said. "It's five days up and two days back down and it's higher than our Everest base camp trek.
"We've been doing some specialised altitude training at Air Locker here in Newcastle just to prepare us in some way for what we will encounter."
Hughes said the money raised from the trek will go towards employing a number of brain cancer nurses in regional NSW centres.
"At the moment, we've got cancer patients from places likes Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Tamworth, big places like that, having to travel a long way to see nurses here in Newcastle," he said.
"The aim is to be able to put some specialised brain cancer nurses into those regional towns and that's where all the money we raise from this latest trek will go."
Donate to the Mark Hughes Foundation website - here.
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