Newcastle forward Aidan Guerra hopes an intense pre-season under new coach Adam O'Brien will fast-track the Knights' adjustment to an up-tempo style ahead of their trial against the Dragons in Maitland.
The Knights announced on Monday that they would return to Maitland Sportsground for the third consecutive year to play a trial game when they take on St George Illawarra on February 22.
Newcastle played Parramatta then Cronulla at the venue the past two years, losing 26-2 and 30-6 respectively.
The Knights have taken their pre-season preparations this week to Tamworth, where Guerra expected "a couple of tough days of training".
"The good thing about coming to a place like this is we get together as a group, we talk about the season ahead and how we want to play," Guerra said.
"I think the plan is also to get a bit of hard work done while we're here."
Knights players have spoken about the intensity of training under O'Brien, who has taken over Newcastle's top job from Nathan Brown. It's O'Brien's first head coaching role in the NRL after stints with Melbourne and the Roosters as an assistant.
"It's been different," Guerra said of training under O'Brien.
"Every coach brings in their own philosophies and things like that, and the way we're training is hopefully setting us up for a different style of football, an up-temp pace, and it's exciting times.
"I think we've got a squad there that has the potential to play really well and if we can gel together and really buy into this brand of footy Adam has brought, it should be good."
The 31-year-old has followed a similar path to O'Brien and sees how the coach has been shaped. Guerra was contracted at the Storm under Craig Bellamy before a 156-game career at the Roosters, where Trent Robinson has been coach since 2013.
"He's come under some pretty good mentors, with Craig Bellamy and Trent Robinson," he said.
"And I've been fortunate enough to be coached by both of them, and you sort of see influences of both guys there, and he also brings his own style as well.
"He's come from pretty good pastures, so I think if we can implement some of those ways, some of those learnings of his, but also he's trying to implement some new theories as well, and as a side we've just got to buy into it.
"At the end of the day, we also have to pull it off on the field, so we've got a lot of work to do and there's still a long way to go, but weeks like this are probably going to fast-track that."
The Knights started their training in Tamworth with an early morning gym session on Monday after arriving Sunday night. The club's coaching staff are keeping the schedule a secret to leave players on alert in their final week of training before the Christmas-new year break.
"I think it does keep us on our toes," Guerra said.
"And you don't know what to expect in a game, so we wake up with that mentality as well, we don't know what to expect and whatever they say goes and we just cop it with a grin and get through it together."
Meanwhile, tickets for the 5.30pm trial at Maitland on February 22 go on sale on Tuesday from 2pm at maitlandevents.com.au.
Tickets are $20 for grandstand seats and general admission is $10 for people aged 13 and above. Children aged 4-12 are $5, while those aged 3 and under are free.
* The Knights announced last week they had formed a player pathway partnership with the Ipswich Jets "to have a two-pronged talent and development system".