Newcastle chief executive Matt Gidley has appealed for understanding in an open letter to fans in the wake of the NRL club’s alarming decline in form over the past month.
With the Knights conceding 179 points in their past four games – including Sunday’s 62-0 thumping by Cronulla – Gidley moved to assure supporters that some short-term pain was expected.
“Since the appointment of coach Nathan Brown, a plan was put in place to develop a team for long-term success,” Gidley wrote.
“We knew this meant significant short-term pain.
“With a number of injuries, and rest assured we are not making excuses, the challenge is greater for our young squad.”
While their defence has been inept, Newcastle’s attack has also failed to fire, scoring a grand total of just 10 points in their past four matches.
They have conceded 355 points already this year, and have a points differential of 25.3 per game – the worst since the hapless Western Suburbs of 1999.
Despite this, the Knights still have the fifth highest average home attendance, with 17,655 fans flowing through the gates each game of Hunter Stadium.
Gidley believes this is a result of the club’s locals-first policy, which has led to 10 players debuting this season, including seven Novocastrian juniors.
“Giving local players an opportunity to represent their home town is part of our philosophy and in-line with the feedback from our community,” he wrote.
“Some have been given their debut match much earlier than we could have anticipated, however this bodes well for our future.”
Gidley closed his letter by inviting fans to ask further questions of the club, to which he or Brown would respond to.