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Knights preparing for gruelling pre-season

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A 30-minute phone call with incoming Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien has assured prop David Klemmer the Knights will be mentally tougher in 2020.

O'Brien will begin pre-season training with the Knights on November 6, personally calling his players to make sure they are fit and ready to go for a gruelling pre-season.

It's a huge task for the rookie NRL coach who comes in as a replacement for Nathan Brown, who left the Knights with two games to go in the 2019 season while the team was still in finals contention. They bowed out in 11th place after winning just two of their last 10 games.

Klemmer, who is in camp with Australia in New Zealand, said he has never met O'Brien but he's confident the former Sydney Roosters and Melbourne assistant can get the best out of the Knights mentally.

"I think it will be great for us as a young side. This year was a big learning curve for us," Klemmer told AAP.

"We went so well throughout the middle of the year, and when we needed to win in tough times we fell apart and I think he'll get the best out of us mentally.

"He's probably going to be really hard on us and give us a good touch up, but it's what we need as a footy side.

"If we want to be a good footy side they're the sorts of things you've got to do to be mentally strong and obviously he's come from the Melbourne and the Roosters system, he's seen success, and if we want to be a part of it we've got to adapt to that and work hard for it."

Kalyn Ponga's also looking forward to getting to work and despite playing World Cup Nines and for the Junior Kangaroos, the star fullback will be there with O'Brien on day one.

"We've spoken and he said he wants me back on the 6th, so I'm happy to do that," Ponga said.

"I've only heard really positive things about him so I'm excited."

The Knights are one of seven clubs who will head back to pre-season training next week - the Tigers are the only club who did not play finals who will have an extended break as they trained all the way up until the decider.

After bottoming out of the finals 58-0 to Parramatta - the worst loss in the club's history - the Broncos will start pre-season training on Friday, the first day of players' 2020 contracts.

Over the next fortnight most clubs will start to return to the paddock with their fringe players and eventually the main squad, while any representative players will be given until late November or early December.

RETURN DATES FOR NRL PRE-SEASON

Brisbane: November 1

Canberra: November 20

Canterbury: From November 11

Cronulla: November 5 (rookies), November 11 (main squad)

Gold Coast: November 4

Manly: November 4 (rookies)

Melbourne: November 14 (rookies), November 25 (main squad)

Newcastle: November 6

North Queensland: November 4

Parramatta: From mid November

Penrith: November 4 (rookies), November 11 (main squad)

South Sydney: From mid November

St George Illawarra: November 11

Sydney Roosters: From mid-November

Warriors: From November

Wests Tigers: Mid November

Dates as provided by NRL clubs

© AAP 2019