Knights coach Adam O'Brien has defended the decision to leave David Klemmer out of his new-look leadership group, declaring the Kangaroos prop is "already a leader who doesn't need the title to go with it".
The Knights have named five players - Blake Green, Jayden Brailey, Daniel Saifiti, Mitch Barnett and Kalyn Ponga - as club leaders for 2021 following a selection process that included input from the coaching staff and playing group.
The leaders were announced at a team meeting on Friday night in Tamworth at the end of a week-long training camp, with the captain expected to be named at the club's season launch in March.
"There was some required criteria that was spelled out beforehand and we had a voting system in place and it was then a case of the key stakeholders, the players and coaching staff, completing the process," O'Brien said.
"After starting to think about our leadership five or six months ago, I'm really comfortable with what we have ended up with now. That tells me the process was the right one.
"There is a couple of other players just on the outside, emerging types leaders, who will play a role in and around the group we have put together but our main leadership group are the five guys we have named."
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Understandably, former skipper Mitchell Pearce, who relinquished the captaincy a fortnight ago following his off-field texting dramas, was not considered for a role but the omission of Klemmer came as a surprise to those who believed he may have been a strong captaincy contender.
O'Brien said Klemmer was included in all the processes and "is comfortable with where he is at".
"He is one of those guys who I will push into it from time to time but he's someone who has an important role within the squad anyway," O'Brien said.
"Klem leads anyway and doesn't need the title to go with it. As far as being a great family man, how he prepares for a game, how diligent he is with his preparation - he is unbelievable.
"He'll play a crucial role just outside the leadership group and there are a couple of others in the same boat as him. Friz [Tyson Frizell] is another one. He is leading every single session and has been outstanding and is another one who doesn't need a title.
"Also with Friz, I think it's the right thing to do for him to just to come in and get acquainted with the group before anything else.
"When it comes to groups like this, there has to be an end point and like I said, I think we have the right guys there now."
O'Brien revealed to the Newcastle Herald why he believes the chosen five are the players to lead the club into the future.
"What stands out for me with Brails is his calmness. With the position he plays [hooker] when you've got him being calm at the first point of call with the ball, it's massive for us.
"When we get a bit erratic, he just calms us down and we really missed that when he wasn't there last season.
"That's been one of the highlights for me of the pre-season but it's also how he is off the field as well. I'm not lying awake worrying about Brails. His professionalism is well beyond his years."
"D Saf is the epitimy of your alpha male. When he walks into the room, it will be quiet. He's just got this presence about him now.
"When he speaks, everyone listens and he's someone they all look at now to follow. He will continue to grow in that department too and that's what's got him his spot in the group."
"His intelligence is a real asset for him. He doesn't say a lot in team meetings but when he does, it is absolutely right on point.
"He doesn't mix his words but gets to the point and there's a real directness there. It's never harsh but it's clear and I really like that about him. I think he needs this as well for his growth as a player. He needs to keep developing that part of his game because he plays fullback and the talk and giving direction to teammates is an integral part of the position."
"Barney is the symbol of the toughness. You think about the player all the group wants to play with, they all love playing with Barney because he has that ability to lift the team with his actions on the field.
"Some of the guys there are really articulate with their words and some are really direct with their actions and I think that's why we have a good blend and the right guys in there."
"He's such a cool, calm head who has got so much experience and has been there and done it.
"He's been through the highs and lows and knows what to expect. He instantly had the respect of the playing group the minute he walked through the door last season and his calmness and professional under pressure rubs off on others."
O'Brien says his leadership model is about developing and promoting from within.
On the captaincy, he said: "I'm not fussed on making it too big a deal because it's more an ego thing so we'll cross that bridge when the season gets closer."