Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns has delivered a stinging verdict on struggling Newcastle, saying his former NRL club have lost their entire identity.
After sacking coach Rick Stone on Monday, chief executive Matt Gidley warned the under-performing playing group that the bloodletting would not stop there.
Johns, a former Knights captain and two-time premiership-winning player, said management needs to “clean the place out”.
“They need someone with a massive big whip to get in there and crack it,” he told The Triple M Rush Hour.
“The whole place needs to start again. They’ve lost their whole identity.”
The Knights’ 2016 squad is already shaping as vastly different to this year’s group with skipper Kurt Gidley to retire, Beau Scott on his way to Parramatta and NSW halfback Trent Hodkinson set to join from Canterbury.
None of the senior playing group is off-contract at the end of 2015 and Gidley hinted some players could be moved on, warning they had six rounds to prove they wanted to be at the club.
Despite the presence of Johns’ former Newcastle teammates in Gidley and Danny Buderus, who will replace Stone for the rest of the season, the 41-year-old said the side’s appalling season ran deeper than a recent slip in form.
“I don’t know, but they’ve lost the way they play,” Johns said.
“They’ve lost the culture within the place. I don’t think they know what they stand for.
“And I’ve always liked (former coach) Brian Smith, but when he came in and did the cleanout then (in 2007), has that set a rot that the club hasn’t recovered from?
“He’d done the dirty work, and he needed to do that. He was hammered privately and publicly but he did what he had to do.”