ARTHUR Papas welcomes me with half a bow before quickly correcting himself.
"I keep doing that," he says with a laugh. After two years in Japan, the traditional greeting has apparently become second nature.
If first impressions count for anything, the newly appointed Newcastle Jets head coach is a creature of habit, and perhaps his players will need to be similarly inclined.
Already, in barely a handful of training sessions, he is trying to instil a work ethic that he hopes will become "ingrained" in them before the start of the season.
Small details count.
Whereas previously Newcastle's players emerged from the dressing rooms in dribs and drabs for training sessions, now they walk onto the pitch in unison. The coach's desired outcome is a one-in, all-in mindset, from the moment his men start work every day.
It's just one lesson the 41-year-old has learned during a coaching career that has taken him from Melbourne, to India, Saudi Arabia, Japan and now his maiden A-League head-coaching role.
Papas is no stranger to Newcastle, having served as an assistant to Gary van Egmond a decade ago before heading abroad.
Eventually he would join Japanese heavyweights Yokohama F. Marinos as Ange Postecoglou's deputy, helping them win the 2019-20 J-League title, their first in 15 seasons. While his budget and resources at Newcastle will be modest compared to Yokohama's, Papas is determined to extract every ounce of value out of his players.
"The first thing is we need to be the hardest-working team in the league," he said.
"That's a non-negotiable. That's something we're working on already, because to play the type of football that I like to play, you need to be hard-working.
"You need to be extremely mobile, you need to be extremely aggressive and the intensity is never compromised. It's all about dominating the game and dominating as high as possible, and scoring goals."
In his short time at the helm, Papas has shown he is willing to make tough decisions, wasting no time in giving the squad that narrowly avoided the wooden spoon last season a complete overhaul.
Skipper Nigel Boogaard has retired, while the likes of Roy O'Donovan, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Matt Millar, Johnny Koutroumbis, Connor O'Toole, Ramy Najjarine, Lachlan Jackson, Lewis Italiano and Luka Prso have been released.
Those former regulars have been replaced by a host of new faces in Matt Jurman, Cameron Devlin, Jordan Elsey, Dane Ingham, Riley Warland, Mohamed Al-Taay and Georgian striker Beka Mikeltadze, with more personnel movement expected in coming weeks.
Papas accepts that rival clubs might be in a stronger position financially than Newcastle but sees no point in complaining.
"In every league you're going to have the teams that spend the most and the teams that punch above their weight," he said.
"I like to see us as a team who are competing. We're not that far away, but we're not at the top of the tree in that regard.
"But by being very efficient in the way we work, and very intelligent in the way we recruit, there's no reason why can't compete with all those teams and punch above our weight.
"I wouldn't have come here if I didn't think we could compete."
Papas is so full of optimism and positive energy that it almost seems rude to address the elephant in the room, or in our case, the elephant in the pavilion at Nobbys Beach.
Why would any coach want to gamble his career on coaching the Jets?
Papas is the 12th man to coach Newcastle after 16 A-League campaigns.
Only three of them - van Egmond, Branko Culina and Ernie Merrick - have survived longer than a season.
Rookies such as Phil Stubbins, Scott Miller and Mark Jones could not resist a drink from the poisoned chalice, yet the highlight of their coaching careers would also prove the nadir.
And now Papas finds himself occupying the same hot seat, yet apparently with no qualms about Newcastle's reputation as a coach's graveyard.
"I think the most important thing is that we don't set the bar low," he said.
"We don't assume that because of what's happened in the last three years, that has to happen this year.
"That comes back to to the mentality, the mindset of the group.
"Everyone who walks through the door, I have a certain expectation of how they're going to train, how they're going to behave, how they're going to be around each other.
"Fundamentally if you get that right, consistently, you'll see a big upturn in performances and results."
While Papas knows he will be judged on his win-loss record from day one, he has an eye on the long-term future, and hopefully one day a team built around home-grown talent.
"We've got one Archie Goodwin, but to be honest I don't think that's enough," Papas said.
Long-suffering Jets fans can only hope Papas is the man to deliver the sustained success they crave.
"The beautiful thing about this region is that they can get behind a team," he said.
"We've got to do our part.
"We need to put a team on the park who people will want to come and watch and get excited about.
"That's our responsibility, but the support from the community is integral."
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