THE undefeated Knights may be flying high in equal second on the NRL ladder having strung together back-to-back performances after the coronavirus break but coach Adam O'Brien, better than most, knows the "quality" of Newcastle's next opposition.
The former Batemans Bay Tiger and Melbourne Storm assistant, has experienced the best start to a Knights' coaching career since Mal Reilly's nine straight wins in 1995 and guided Newcastle's most impressive season opening since four consecutive victories five years ago to kick off Rick Stone's second stint in charge.
However, O'Brien spent a decade in Melbourne plying his trade before arriving at the Knights and now meets his previous outfit for the first time as a head coach when the teams clash at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday.
And despite Newcastle's recent efforts against the Raiders and Panthers, O'Brien said his squad won't need any reminding about the challenge ahead from last year's minor premiers, who are joint fourth on the overall standings and haven't missed the play offs since 2010 when stripped of points for salary cap breaches.
"I'll leave them alone tonight and then we'll do a thorough review tomorrow, but they understand the quality of the opposition tonight and again next week," O'Brien said after the Knights beat Canberra 34-18 at Campbelltown Stadium on Sunday.
"I think it's important that they reflect on what they did tonight first. We'll do a thorough review and we'll do that win, lose or draw. We review our training the same way.
"There's always something we're looking to maintain or something we're looking to improve, but they don't need me to tell them who is at the end of next week and they know the quality of the opposition."
Three wins, a draw and the best attacking record mean O'Brien's men have only the Eels in front of them, but the mentor deflected any personal praise.
"It's on them," O'Brien said refering to his players.
"What they've done from day one these guys, as I've said numerous times I rolled into the joint and they were already training. They've worked really hard.
"I'm thrilled to be in this position. It's a weird first year for me as a coach. There's a lot of stuff going on.
"But they're a great bunch and I've got really good help from obviously Bedsy [Danny Buderus] and all our staff.
"I'm lucky to have Furnsy [David Furner] and Willie Peters who have been around the traps.
"I've got really good development coaches that are coaching these young guys. And the support of the Wests Group.
"So I'm not doing any complaining at the moment."
The Storm returned to the winner's circle in emphatic fashion on Friday night, disposing of the Rabbitohs 22-8 after being downed 22-6 by the Raiders a week earlier.
Newcastle have yet to lose in 2020, overcoming Canberra, Wests Tigers (42-24) and the Warriors (20-nil) while splitting the points with Penrith (14-all).
The Knights have lost seven straight to Melbourne, last tasting success in 2015.
O'Brien worked his way through the Storm coaching ranks before being Bellamy's assistant in the Victorian capital for five years.
He joined the Roosters as an attacking coach for last year's premiership defence.
The Knights are scheduled to take on the Roosters in the third last round on September 12, six weeks after a re-match with the Storm in Melbourne on August 2.
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