A 30-minute phone call with incoming Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien has assured prop David Klemmer the Knights will be mentally tougher in 2020.
O'Brien will begin pre-season training with the Knights on November 6, personally calling his players to make sure they are fit and ready to go for a gruelling pre-season.
It's a huge task for the rookie NRL coach who comes in as a replacement for Nathan Brown, who left the Knights with two games to go in the 2019 season while the team was still in finals contention. They bowed out in 11th place after winning just two of their last 10 games.
Klemmer, who is in camp with Australia in New Zealand, said he has never met O'Brien but he's confident the former Sydney Roosters and Melbourne assistant can get the best out of the Knights mentally.
"I think it will be great for us as a young side. This year was a big learning curve for us," Klemmer said.
"We went so well throughout the middle of the year, and when we needed to win in tough times we fell apart and I think he'll get the best out of us mentally.
"He's probably going to be really hard on us and give us a good touch up, but it's what we need as a footy side.
"If we want to be a good footy side they're the sorts of things you've got to do to be mentally strong and obviously he's come from the Melbourne and the Roosters system, he's seen success, and if we want to be a part of it we've got to adapt to that and work hard for it."
Kalyn Ponga's also looking forward to getting to work and despite playing World Cup Nines and for the Junior Kangaroos, the star fullback will be there with O'Brien on day one.
"We've spoken and he said he wants me back on the 6th, so I'm happy to do that," Ponga said.
"I've only heard really positive things about him so I'm excited."
The Knights are one of seven clubs who will head back to pre-season training next week.
Over the next fortnight most clubs will start to return to the paddock with their fringe players and eventually the main squad, while any representative players will be given until late November or early December.
Meanwhile, Klemmer is expecting a fiery contest in Saturday's Test against a Tonga invitational team in Auckland.
Tonga's pack includes Andrew Fifita, Jason Taumalolo, Tevita Pangai Junior, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Joe Ofahengaue and Addin Fonua-Blake.
Klemmer and Fonua-Blake exchanged heated words during a spicy clash between the Knights and Manly earlier this year.
"Yeah, he's a lively character," Klemmer said.
"He loves all the talk but he backs up his footy as well. He's going to be excited for the game and excited to put that jersey on.
"We've got to concentrate on playing footy because if you get involved in that talk, you can worry about one thing and points can come as well so you can do something silly.
"You can't worry about that sort of stuff."
The Kangaroos enjoyed a day off on Thursday but will complete their preparations with a captain's run on Friday before the contest at Eden Park.