Newcastle coach Adam O’Brien says their supporters can choose to jump ship as they struggle on without their star players.
His comments came after the Knights’ defeat against North Queensland on Thursday in which they battled back into the contest after trailing by 16 points, only to trail off again for a 36-20 loss.
They’d been allowed back into the game after Jason Taumalolo and Lachlan Burr were sin-binned midway through the first half but telling signs from the Kinghts’ previous loss to Wests in Magic Round shone through as they managed just one score in the second half.
O’Brien was left noting the inexperience of his young backline and the injuries the club currently face, but reckoned he understood if fans had seen enough.
“Look, the results are not what we want and we’re not where we want to be, but we’re working extremely hard and I’m confident we will come out the other side,” he said.
“There’s some experience on the way – five starters weren’t there tonight – and some young guys got some tough lessons.
“I’d ask for our supporters to stick with us, and for those that are impatient and don’t want to stick with us, that’s fine. I understand.”
Bradman Best was a late omission from Thursday’s clash, while fullback Kalyn Ponga missed his second consecutive game with a hip injury.
Mitchell Pearce, Edrick Lee and Hymel Hunt make up a stacked injury ward for the Knights but O’Brien says it’s valuable game time for his younger players.
“There’d be lucky to be 50 games in our whole backline minus Greeny (Blake Green),” he said.
“Is it an excuse? Yeah it is – but it’s reality too.
“We will get better, we’ll come out the other side of this. I understand that some people don’t want to wait for that but some young blokes are on their journey and we do have some experience coming back which is going to help.”
“Everybody just needs to take a breath, including me. That was probably my lesson for the week, just to take a breath.
“They’re trying their backsides off and sometimes a little bit too hard but all they’re doing is getting kicked in the guts and they don’t need me doing it as well.
“So we just got to take a breath – we’re on a path but we’ve got some challenges as well.”
Newcastle will be relieved to end their three-week road trip up the east coast, but have much to prepare for in the coming rounds.
A home clash with Manly awaits in round 12 before facing Parramatta and South Sydney in a difficult stretch.