Knights to implement Roosters’ defensive blueprint
DAVID Klemmer has vowed to put the steel back into Newcastle.
The Knights prop revealed his side had accepted a challenge from new coach Adam O'Brien to turn a marshmallow middle into a Roosters-like wall of steel after conceding a season-killing 522 points in 2019.
Borrowing from the premiership-winning blueprint of his former club the Roosters, O'Brien has also ordered the Knights to forge a new identity based on "toughness'' after losing the famed Newcastle fear-factor under former coach Nathan Brown.
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"Every footy side has to (make the other side fear them),'' Klemmer said.
"We want to play a tough brand of football and that is not just me but the group. We have been challenged to find the toughness we have been missing, especially in defence. He has been really hard on us as a group.
"We have also been challenged to find our identity as a football side.''
Klemmer described his pre-season under O'Brien as the "hardest" of his career and predicted the former Storm and Roosters assistant would help transform the Knights into a final's force.
O'Brien has spent much of the off-season implementing a hybrid of the Rooster's defensive system after the third worst defensive record in the NRL saw the Knight's crash out of contention last year.
"He has been around Melbourne and the Roosters,'' Klemmer said.
"He knows their systems and what it takes to be both a good team and to a good player. He has been getting stuck into me personally and the group to be better at defence, and to be better as a middle.
"We let in way too many tries last year, especially at the back end, so has been really hard on us as a group when it comes to defence. A good defensive side always wins the comp and we need to be better.''
Klemmer hinted he would add some finesse to his power game this year while also being more selective with his aggression.
"I will be more mature about picking my times better,'' Klemmer said.
"(The coaches) have been working with me to find some control so I don't hurt the footy side with my (ill) discipline. The main thing is that I am not going to go silly and give away penalties, I am still going to be aggressive. That will always be part of my game.
"(O'Brien) hasn't really said a lot to me about my role yet. I think he just wants me to go forward and play a bit of footy. I will try and mix my game up a bit, and be strong with it all. But I really want to be strong with my 'D,' because that is the focus.''