Under-pressure Knights coach Adam O’Brien is reportedly close to losing the support of his playing group after a season to forget in the NRL.
Tensions reached boiling point after a recent defeat, with O’Brien believed to have told his underperforming stars in the sheds: ‘I know what you blokes are saying about me. I’m going nowhere.’
Newcastle have been awful this year, chalking up just five wins.
Their performances on home soil in particular have left their loyal fans furious, and O’Brien knows he has to turn things around quickly or he will be shown the door.
The coach was in damage control mode following last Sunday’s defeat against the Bulldogs, and his bizarre declaration he was part of four premierships – as an assistant coach – at the Storm and Roosters before taking over the Knights in 2020 didn’t help his cause.
Knights coach Adam O’Brien is reportedly close to losing the support of the playing group after a testing season in the NRL
Leaving prop David Klemmer off the team sheet to face the Tigers this weekend after he verbally abused Knights trainer Hayden Knowles and refused to come off the field last Sunday has caused further problems internally
A loss to the resurgent Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Sports Stadium this weekend will only heap more pressure on O’Brien and the Knights.
Not picking veteran prop David Klemmer after he verbally abused Knights trainer Hayden Knowles and refused to come off the field last Sunday has caused further problems.
It is understood the players are backing Klemmer, who was issued a show cause notice to explain his on-field behaviour.
The prop allegedly called Knowles a ‘c***’ and told him to ‘shut the f*** up’, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The publication also reported that a senior member of staff at Newcastle had a text conversation about Klemmer with a player and signed off with ‘FEC’, which stands for ‘F*** Every C***’.
It is understood the Knights players are backing Klemmer, who was issued a show cause notice to explain his on-field behaviour involving Knowles
O’Brien’s bizarre declaration he was part of four premierships – as an assistant coach – at the Storm and Roosters before taking over the Knights in 2020 shows he is a man feeling the pressure
Earlier this week there were reports the club turned down Klemmer’s request to move to Parramatta before the August 1 deadline.
If the club sacks Klemmer, it will obviously be motivated by money.
The front-rower is on deal worth at least $800,000 a year until the end of 2023 and if he departs the Hunter, it will free up salary cap space for Newcastle to chase off-contract stars.
After finishing in the top eight the past two seasons, Newcastle fans felt good times were on the horizon again in 2022, especially following impressive early victories over the Sydney Roosters and Wests Tigers.
The Knights then fell off a cliff, losing seven straight matches leading into Magic Round in Brisbane.
O’Brien’s men have leaked 522 points at an average of 27.47 points per game.
They also have the worst differential in the competition, minus 238 points.
O’Brien is under contract until the end of 2024 and the decision not to replace Mitchell Pearce with a gun halfback has come back to bite the club, with Jake Clifford and Adam Clune both not delivering as playmakers.
If the Knights – and O’Brien – don’t find a solution fast, he will suffer the same fate as Trent Barrett (Bulldogs) and Michael Maguire (Tigers).