Newcastle CEO Phil Gardner says the club could look at extending Adam O'Brien's three-year deal at the Knights as early as next season after the rookie coach lifted the club into the finals for the first time in seven years in his first season.
"What he has done this season is a 9.5 out of 10 and you can throw Bedsy [footy GM] into that as well - they make a great team," Gardner said.
"Adam has done an outstanding job with virtually the same squad as we had last season and given the injuries we've been forced to deal with and the travel and the difficulties around COVID and the bubble, it's just been a great effort.
"We are now in a situation where we could be hosting a game in the first week of the finals, hopefully in front of 15,000 fans, which would be fantastic for the club and the town."
While O'Brien is already contracted until the end of the 2022 season, Gardner would not rule out the possibility of extending his deal well before then.
"That's a conversation for the off-season but certainly, we'll look at it. I certainly see Adam as being a long-term coach of the Knights."
The Knights are compiling a short-list of candidates to fill the assistant coaching role for next season after David Furner departs.
Coach Adam O'Brien held a zoom meeting with Dean Young from the Dragons on Monday but there will be others considered with a host of potential contenders on the market including ex-top grade coaches Anthony Seibold, Stephen Kearney and Shane Flanagan.
Complicating the issue is NRL clubs still don't know what the cap will be on the football department budget for next season. The Knights spend around $5.5 million on their football department, more than $500,000 less than some rival clubs.
A proposal to cut the cap back to $5 million for next season has been rejected by the ARL Commission, who are saying the cut is not big enough and want to see the figure slashed further.
Tex v Tyson
He'll be a teammate next season but don't think for one minute that will stop Dragons backrower Tyson Frizell from trying to terrorise Tex Hoy at every opportunity tomorrow when the Knights face the Dragons at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Hoy will face a real acid test in his first appearance at five-eighth in the front line of defence as he'll be camped on Newcastle's left edge and have right backrower Frizell zeroing in on him at every opportunity.
It stands to reason Hoy's performances in the number six jersey over the next few weeks will go a long way to determining the calibre of who Knights will target in the halves for next season.
Farewell for Dark
The family of Central Newcastle prop Joel Dark, who tragically died five days after collapsing on the footy field following a head knock, will farewell the teenager at a private funeral service in his home town of Old Bar on the mid north coast on Tuesday. It's understood only close family and friends will attend.
Meanwhile, the after-shocks of his death are still being felt by the Central club but officials, headed by president Heath Anderson and coach Phil Williams, have been doing a wonderful job to try and soften the impact of the tragedy.
The club has kept the players together as much as possible and have had counsellors available on a couple of occasions with 36 players turning up last Tuesday night for private sessions.
Former Knights and recently appointed Warriors coach Nathan Brown on the Reward Hospitality table at Newcastle's Gold Cup race meeting yesterday with close mate and ex-Knight Jarrod O'Doherty, Reward Hospitality's managing director.
Departing Knights Aidan Guerra, Herman Ese'ese, Andrew McCullough and Blake Green will be farewelled with a video tribute after fulltime of the Dragons clash at McDonald Jones Stadium tomorrow.
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Guerra is retiring at the end of the season and Ese'ese is off to the Gold Coast Titans after three seasons at the club while injured players McCullough and Green will both end abbreviated stints with just a handful of games in Knights' colours.
Intriguingly, we understand centre Tautau Moga, who is coming off contract, apparently won't feature on the video, suggesting his future is still undecided.
Knights assistant coach David Furner has thanked the club for its support and understanding in allowing him to reluctantly cut short his stay to return to Sydney for family reasons at the end of the season.
Furner had two years to run at the Knights but will instead take up a similar role with the Bulldogs after being released on compassionate grounds.
"I've had to put family first and Phil Gardner, Bedsy and Adam have been very supportive which I really appreciate," he said.
Furner had been planning on buying a house in Newcastle but a serious family medical situation changed all that.
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