Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
In 2020 Adam O’Brien joined the Newcastle Knights as head coach and led them back to the finals for the first time in seven years.
This squad was largely built by previous coach Nathan Brown and the Knights were defeated easily by the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the first week of the finals.
Following this defeat O’Brien looked to take what was now well and truly his Newcastle side further than the year before but the Knights would once again bow out in the first week of the finals, this time in a competitive game with the Parramatta Eels.
Expectations weren’t high for Newcastle in 2022 with the departure of premiership-winning halfback Mitchell Pearce and it’s safe to say the Knights have ended up around where most punters tipped them to finish.
Newcastle currently sit in 14th place on the ladder with just five wins this season and are coming off of a 24-10 loss at home against the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs as O’Brien’s post-match press conference has been met with widespread criticism.
“Previous to getting this job here I was involved in four grand finals,” O’Brien said.
“I know how those teams prepared.
“I know the systems they used defensively.
'I think you have six to eight weeks at the start of next year'
Knights coach Adam O'Brien has conceded the club's 2022 season is over… and agreed time is running out to keep his job 👀
— Fox League (@FOXNRL) August 1, 2022
“You don’t unlearn that knowledge.
“Applying it and getting it ingrained is going to take some time clearly.”
Many are critical of O’Brien’s choice to reference his former jobs at the Storm and Roosters as an assistant coach where he was a part of multiple grand final campaigns as he is now in a more prominent role and has never looked like taking the Knights to a grand final.
The Daily Telegraph’s Paul Kent blasted O’Brien on NRL 360.
“If Adam O’Brien had his chance again he would have shut up and said nothing,” Kent said.
“And what he said there is irrelevant because it doesn’t matter if you have seen it… you have got to start being the head coach and making decisions.”
O’Brien will be hoping that some of the heat is taken off him with a Knights win this Sunday afternoon when they travel to Campbelltown to take on the Wests Tigers who are now just two points below them on the ladder.