TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 07: Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien looks on before the start during the round nine NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Newcastle Knights at Qld Country Bank Stadium, on May 07, 2022, in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Newcastle Knights coach Adam O'Brien has admitted there should be fewer distractions at the club in 2023, but said speculation he has signed a contract extension already is "premature".

O'Brien was rumoured to be heading for the exit earlier in the season, with the Knights battling and looking unlikely to make it out of the bottom four.

A dramatic second half of the season turnaround though saw the Knights match after match to not only make the finals, but wind up hosting an elimination final after finishing fifth on the NRL ladder.

They ultimately took extra time to beat the Canberra Raiders in the knockout clash, before their season ended on Saturday in Auckland with a heavy blowout loss at the hands of the New Zealand Warriors.

The semi-final appearance means all pressure is off O'Brien, who has another season on contract in the Hunter.

The former Sydney Roosters assistant was even rumoured to have signed a new deal in the lead up to the semi-final which would lock him up long-term, but he said no such thing has happened.

"I hope so," O'Brien said when asked if the Knights would be faced by less distractions in 2024.

"I've got a contract next year. The reports [of an extension] are a bit premature. I'm going to go away and have a holiday, get away, and then come back and sit down with the club and sort something out from there."

The Knights, who were rumoured to be in the mix for the likes of sacked Gold Coast Titans coach Justin Holbrook and former St George Illawarra Dragons boss Paul McGregor, have remained tight-lipped on the issue of O'Brien's future.