Knights coach Adam O'Brien is toying with the idea of taking a leaf out of coaching mentor Craig Bellamy's pre-season training playbook and putting his players through an army-style torture test when they return from their end-of-season break next month.
The bulk of the Knights' squad will be back on deck to begin preparing for 2022 on November 10 with O'Brien's more experienced, longer-serving players, including the likes of Mitchell Pearce, David Klemmer, Tyson Frizell, Kalyn Ponga, Daniel and Jacob Saifiti, Mitch Barnett and Kurt Mann, all returning two weeks later.
New signing, South Sydney grand final centre Dane Gagai, is not due back from his eight weeks off until December 15.
The coach and his new-look football department staff will map out what the entire pre-season will look like at a three-day conference at Anchorage Port Stephens in a fortnight.
But O'Brien has already told his players they should prepare themselves for a mentally and physically torturous army boot camp sometime before Christmas.
Storm coach Bellamy's army camps are the stuff of folklore at the Melbourne Storm, with O'Brien witnessing them first hand when he was on the coaching staff.
These days though, it's only the new recruits who have to face the music when they first arrive in Melbourne.
Life member change
As many as eight former Knights stars, including premiership winners Matthew Johns, Mark Hughes, Adam MacDougall and Marc Glanville, will become life members next year following a major change to the eligibility rules agreed to by owners Wests Group.
Currently, players who have played 200 top grade games for the club automatically receive life membership. Only eight players - Danny Buderus , Kurt Gidley , Andrew Johns , Tony Butterfield , Robbie O'Davis , Matt Gidley , Steve Simpson  and Jarrod Mullen  - fit that category.
Inaugural captain Sam Stewart, former captain and premiership-winning coach Michael Hagan, the club's first Kangaroo Mark Sargent, premiership-winning captain and club figurehead Paul Harragon and duel premiership winner Billy Peden, are also life members despite not reaching the 200-game mark.
But from next year, it's been agreed 150 NRL games will guarantee players the club's highest honour.
Along with Johns, Hughes, MacDougall and Glanville, the likes of Robbie McCormack, Aku Uate, James McManus and Chris Houston will all become eligible. Of the current team, returning centre Dane Gagai has played 128 games for Newcastle, Daniel Saifiti  and Mitch Barnett .
Former Kangaroos prop Mark O'Meley will step up into a more senior mentoring role next season at the Knights after being appointed coach of the club's NSW Cup team.
O'Meley was in charge of the Harold Matts Under 17's this year but has been pushed up into the Cup job by new head of pathways Garth Brennan to replace the departed Andrew Ryan. Former Parramatta prop and ex-Wyong coach Paul Stringer will be O'Meley's assistant.
With the Knights set to again field a side in the Jersey Flegg Under 21's competition in 2022 after pulling out this year, Tony Gleeson will coach the team with Ben Farrar his assistant.
Highly regarded ex-title-winning Toronto coach Adam Bettridge will take charge of the S G Ball Under 19s side with ex-Singleton first grade coach Jai Bailey and Cessnock's Mark Wilton as his assistants.
Tim Ryan, the brother of Andrew, and a premiership-winning coach with Dubbo CYMS in Group 11, will be head coach of the Matts team with Rohan Kelly and Joel Penny assisting.
Brennan is yet to finalise coaches for the NRL or Harvey Norman women's teams but Andrew Johnson will coach the Tarsha Gale Cup side with Bec Young and Tahnee Milgate assisting.
We're not sure who laid claimed to being the smartest player on the Knights roster previously but we know who it is now. New halfback Adam Clune has a double degree in law and finance.
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