Knights coach Adam O'Brien will play "observer" at the NRL Nines in Perth this weekend after handing over the coaching reins of the squad to his assistants David Furner and Willie Peters.
Despite the Nines being his first official competition as a head coach, O'Brien says he's happy to take a back-seat in Perth to give himself the chance to run a closer eye over what is primarily a young Knights squad.
"Dave and Willie are doing a real good job and will be in charge and essentially, I'll just be there as an observer," O'Brien said.
"Rather than have to be in that competitive mode on the sideline and worrying about the interchanges and who is running off and on, I want to be able to sit back and have a closer look at who puts their hand up and takes their opportunity for us."
The Knights, who will fly to Perth today to prepare for the tournament, have drawn the Warriors and Penrith in a pool that also includes a vastly under-strength Sydney Roosters squad affected by the World Club Challenge.
Penrith have as many as eight top graders in their squad including Nathan Cleary and Viliame Kikau but despite leaving plenty of big names behind, O'Brien says he will be very disappointed if the Knights are not extremely competitive.
"While the squad might be relatively young, all the players have been in the pre-season program and the bottom line is when you are wearing the colours, there is an expectation that needs to be met," he said.
"The Nines is obviously an attacking game but I'll be also looking closely at our defence. There will be expectations there around all the effort areas defensively."
The squad features retired ex-captain Kurt Gidley and the experienced Aidan Guerra and Sione Mata'utia. But six players in the 18-member squad - Jirah Momoisea, Brodie Jones, Bayden Searle, Tex Hoy, Simi Sasagi and Matt Soper-Lawler - are yet to play in the NRL.
And with three positions still vacant in the top 30 roster, there is an opportunity for the likes of unsigned outside backs Tyronne Roberts-Davis and Soper-Lawler to push for a fulltime contract.
Searle, a former Dubbo Cyms halfback in just his second season at the club, has trained during the off-season with the fulltime squad and impressed O'Brien with his toughness.
He will relish his chance at this level in the absence of senior stars such as Mitchell Pearce, Kalyn Ponga and Connor Watson.
"Everything is a stepping stone and I'll try and do the best I can," Searle said. "It's definitely the biggest step-up I've had to face."
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