Mitchell Pearce has urged Newcastle fans to be patient as the Knights’ new recruits attempt to take the club back to its first finals series in five years.
Next Friday’s opening-round clash with Manly will mark a new era for the club, amid predictions they could rise as high as the top four after winning just six games over the past two years.
But Pearce warned it would take time for the side – and their nine new first graders – to settle into their groove before they fired again.
“There’s lots of hype and obviously with the players we’ve signed,” Pearce said.
“But we’ve got to be patient with our combinations. It’s a new side but I’m confident of where we can get to over the next couple of years.
“Newcastle is craving some wins and some success and that’s why there is a buzz. But it’s a new side, we’re going to take time to gel.”
Pearce insisted a similar approach needed to be taken with livewire fullback Kalyn Ponga.
The 19-year-old has been billed as one of the most exciting players in the NRL after playing just nine games for North Queensland over the past two seasons.
Pearce would know, having debuted at 17 himself before making his maiden NSW State of Origin appearance a season later.
“I feel a bit sorry for him, and that’s out of respect to him,” Pearce said.
“He’s a great player. All the hype is 100 per cent, and I’m saying it the most. But people have got to be patient with him, he’s a new player in a new side.
“It’s going to take Kalyn a little bit to adjust. He’s going to have ups and downs. But as long as people see that you’ll see a real superstar in the next couple of years.”
His comments come after Knights coach Nathan Brown admitted the team had potentially been “over-hyped” during the summer after their last-start trial loss to Parramatta.
Pearce appeared a different man in Newcastle colours at Thursday’s NRL launch, as the 28-year-old constantly referred to his new relaxed lifestyle in the “country town”.
But what was particularly evident was that he’d found a new home at the Knights, highlighted by the fact he is a chance to become the club’s captain at their own launch on Friday.
“I’m enjoying the change,” he said.
“Obviously coming from Sydney and moving there was a bit of the unknown. But so far I’m really enjoying it.
“I wanted to go to Newcastle, I decided to go to Newcastle and I can’t wait to make the most of the next four years.”