Reports of a rift between the Newcastle playing group and coaching staff have emerged in the wake of Connor Watson's departure from the Knights.
Watson is set to join the Roosters from the 2022 season on a two-year deal, a move that follows failed negotiations between the utility and his current club.
According to Fox Sports, Watson has signed a shorter, cheaper deal to return to Bondi after baulking at a three-year deal with Newcastle.
Acting as his own manager, Watson's contract with the Chooks is reportedly worth $600,000, which equates to an estimated $50,000 less per-year than the offer tabled by the Knights.
The decision has sparked some speculation surrounding the relationship among the club's key figures in both the playing and coaching departments.
Speaking on NRL 360, reporter James Hooper stated his beliefs that there is cause for concern at Newcastle.
“This story lends itself to the fact that there might be a bit of a bad scene unfolding at the Knights at the moment,” Hooper said.
“I’m not sure the playing group and coaching staff are all on the same page.
“The way it has unfolded is that they had a team meeting and Connor at the end of that, opted to tell the playing group and coaches that he had an announcement that he had decided to sign with the Sydney Roosters.
“I think that blindsided quite a few of the club officials and as a result, he will head off to the Chooks.
“I think where the Knights dropped the ball in negotiations is that they underarmed Connor, worth half of what he’s on next season.
"I think it came as quite a shock to the Knights players when he announced it today.”
Fellow panelist Paul Crawley agreed with Hooper, believing the growing tensions among the Knights could cause further harm in the aftermath of Watson's departure.
“It’s a major concern for the Knights because usually if a player is in your system you’d expect to get them at a bargain price,” Crawley said.
“In this instance he’s gone to the Roosters for less money. I can understand that, but it’s bad for the Knights and their salary cap management looking forward.”
The Knights are looking to cement their place in the top eight in the coming weeks, with a clash against the 16th-paced Bulldogs in Round 23 likely to bolster their position on the league ladder.