Marquee signing David Klemmer says the Newcastle Knights will hit the ground running in 2019.

MARQUEE signing David Klemmer sees no reason why the Newcastle Knights can’t jell from the outset next season, despite the influx of new recruits at the club.
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Klemmer is one of nine players Newcastle have recruited during a 2018 spending spree, at least six of whom are expected to debut for their new club in round one against Cronulla on Friday, March 15.

CONFIDENT: David Klemmer

SEASON OF GOODWILL: Newcastle Knights players bought some festive cheer for young fans, such as Peta Kerr, at John Hunter Children’s Hospital on Thursday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Few clubs have experienced such a turnover in personnel, and many of the teams who featured in last season’s play-offs have retained the bulk of their rosters.

Yet Klemmer believes the pre-season should provide Newcastle with enough opportunity to develop cohesion and said they intend to start their campaignstrongly and capitalise on a favourable early draw.

“We don’t want to use excuses,” Klemmer said at a team visit to John Hunter Children’s Hospital on Thursday.

“We’ve got two trials, we’ve got training. By round one, we should be ready to go.

“We should know our combinations. Obviously playing together, it might take a couple of weeks, but we want to start winning footy games.

“We don’t want to wait until halfway through the season and use it as an excuse for not winning games.

“I think five of our first seven games are at home, and we’re really looking forward to playing at a packed McDonald Jones Stadium and I’m really excited about that.”

Klemmer said it wasimportant for the Knights to start the year in positive fashion and use the confidence gained as a springboard to reach the finals for the first time since 2013.

“Our goal is to be around there,” he said.

“Your time in rugby league is only short, and you don’t want to be looking back on it saying I only played two or three years of semi-final football.You want to be there nearly every year.”

Knights skipper Mitchell Pearce was confident the understanding he has developedwith fellow ball-players Kalyn Ponga and Connor Watson would help alleviateany early-season teething problems.

“Our team’s been educated well in attack …attacking wise, our team is very tuned up,” he said.

“The boys are very educated about rugby league. Now we’ve got a bit more quality, I’ve got no doubt the footy stuff will take another step forward.”

After spending the first six years of his career at Canterbury, Klemmer is used to playing home games at cavenous ANZStadium, where often there aremore vacant seats than those that are occupied.

He was looking forward to embracing the big-game atmosphere at McDonald Jones Stadium.

“Alex McKinnon has tipped me already …he says there will be 30,000 or so people for round one against the Sharks,” he said.

“Obviously we only used to get packedcrowds at the Dogs when we were winning or it was a special occasion.

“To get that in round one would be pretty special.”

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