Newcastle Knights captain Mitchell Pearce has heaped praise on Adam O'Brien, saying the former Roosters and Melbourne assistant will help change their losing habits.
On the first day of NRL pre-season for 2020, Pearce cut a positive figure for the year ahead, but refused to make any promises for skeptical fans.
It has been a lean few years for the Knights having claimed three wooden spoons and finishing 11th twice, as well as the dramatic departure of coaches Rick Stone in 2015 followed by Nathan Brown at the end of last season.
O'Brien is tasked with steadying the ship.
"We've obviously got high expectations. But I'm not going to stand here, day one after Christmas, and say 'this and 'that'," Pearce said on Monday.
"It's about working hard, looking after our bodies and preparing as well as we can so we take on round one as good as we can to build into our year."
O'Brien, who served more than a decade under Craig Bellamy at Melbourne and helped the Roosters to last year's NRL premiership, is believed to have brought new life to the club.
At the end of 2019 he organised a working camp for the squad to spend time in the drought-stricken town of Tamworth in the north of NSW, helping farming families around their properties to learn perspective.
It is all part of O'Brien's strategy to force players to find comfort in the uncomfortable.
"I've really enjoyed 'Ads' so far," said Pearce.
"He's a super coach and we're really lucky to have him here. The whole coaching staff has been great - talking about being uncomfortable Ads has challenged us all mentally in a really good way.
"The boys are having to work hard and continue to do so to change some habits, losing habits, that we fell into last year.
"There's a long way to go but the coaching staff is doing everything for us to set us up for a big year."
Australian Associated Press