It might be his first competition in charge as Knights coach but we are hearing Adam O'Brien won't be taking any selection risks when he finalises his squad for the NRL Nines in Perth in a fortnight.
Kalyn Ponga and Connor Watson are automatic exclusions following their selection for the All Stars game but they won't be the only big names who won't make the trip to the west.
Skipper Mitchell Pearce, Origin props David Klemmer and Daniel Saifiti and winger Edrick Lee are all fit but won't be selected.
The same goes for Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Bradman Best, Phoenix Crossland and Jayden Brailey, who have all missed training recently due to injury.
Fitzgibbon, Best and Brailey have been getting around in moon boots at various stages over the past week and while their injuries are considered minor, exposing them to a helter-skelter tournament like the Nines across the other side of the country a month out from the start of the premiership would be considered madness.
Crossland hasn't trained with the full squad since before Christmas because of a groin issue and at this stage, is highly unlikely to play in the trials at the end of the month let alone the Nines.
There are now also doubts over centre Tautau Moga, a certain selection until he twinged a hamstring which put him out of training over the past week, Cowboys recruit Enari Tuala, who has just had testicle surgery [see next item] and Mason Lino, who has just returned to full training after a shoulder reconstruction.
With only 27 players finalised in the club's top 30 roster, that leaves a bare minimum remaining to fill the positions in the 15-man squad required for each game.
It's expected 18 players will travel with development player Chris Randall certain to be one of the extras.
A selection stipulation from the NRL for the tournament is every club must name at least one of their top five highest paid players in their squad.
Aidan Guerra will fill that role for the Knights and is the likely captain. O'Brien may yet have a surprise or two up his sleeve come selection time as well.
The Knights will play the Warriors and Penrith in the preliminary rounds and also have the Sydney Roosters in their pool.
A possible squad is: Guerra, Kurt Mann, Tex Hoy, Starford To'a, Gehamat Shibasaki, Josh King, Sione Mata'utia, Mitch Barnett, Herman Ese'ese, Pasami Saulo, Hymel Hunt, Jacob Saifiti, Jirah Momoisea, Brodie Jones, Randall, Moga/Tuala/Lino/Tim Glasby.
There is no questioning the toughness of NRL players but new Knights signing Enari Tuala has taken that to an eye-watering new level.
The former Cowboys winger was left reeling after being accidentally kneed in the groin during a morning wrestling session last week. But despite the pain, Tuala gritted his teeth and took part and finished a training session that afternoon before heading home.
It wasn't until midnight that he woke housemate Gehamat Shibasaki, telling him he couldn't put up with the pain downstairs any longer.
After messaging coach Adam O'Brien, they went straight to hospital and Tuala had surgery after it was discovered he had been running around during the day with a ruptured testicle.
Talk about deja vu.
Former Canberra centre Joey Leilua unloaded on Ricky Stuart this week after walking out on the club to join the Wests Tigers, claiming the Raiders coach had called him out for being over-weight when he returned to pre-season training and it was the beginning of the end for him in the national capital. We seem to remember a striking similarity with how things soured at the Knights between Leilua and then coach Rick Stone before he joined Canberra in 2015.
Maybe a mirror is in order.
The Knights are in negotiations with 17-year-old Eels backrower Toni Mataele, who is apparently being shopped around to several NRL clubs.
Mataele, who weighs a hefty 105kgs, is originally from Newcastle and has plenty of extended family still living in town.
Johns statue backing
Knights boss Phil Gardner says the club isn't in a position to help fund a $100,000 statue of the league Immortal Andrew Johns outside McDonald Jones Stadium but fully supports the push to honour the club's greatest player and reckons the NSW government should be prepared to put its hand in its pocket.
"It only seems fair in the wake of what is happening in Melbourne with Cameron Smith and Billy Slater," Gardner told us. "And given that our stadium is a public facility, Joey is probably not the only sporting great from our town who should be recognised in this way.
"From our point of view, we are already committing considerable funds to build a Chief's Legends Room in the centre of excellence building in honour of former captain Paul Harragon which has been our pledge for quite some time. That room will honour every player who has played for the club."
The push for a Johns statue in Newcastle gathered some momentum last week when the State government in AFL-dominated Victoria announced it would fund statues for both Storm greats Smith and Slater at AAMI Park, even though Smith is still playing.
But the imminent departure of Venues NSW boss Paul Doorn, who oversees the government-owned stadiums in this state, to Rugby NSW will more than likely only hold up the cause that little bit longer.
Head of footy
The Knights are expected to announce a new director of football by the end of this month with interviews likely to kick-off next week following the resignation of Brian Canavan.
The field for the job has been narrowed down to a shortlist of seven contenders with two of the seven believed to be current internal Knights staffers.
Paea on staff
New Wests Rosellas signing Micky Paea has joined the welfare department at the Knights, working under head of welfare Dean Noonan.
Paea, who played with the Knights in 2016-17, will play for the Rosellas on the weekends in the Real NRL but during the week, will be keeping close tabs on the welfare of Knights players, particularly the club's polynesian contingent.
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