Newcastle coach Nathan Brown has forecast a "two-pronged" improvement with the arrival of representative prop David Klemmer at the NRL club.
The Knights finished 11th last year, showing vast progress after three straight wooden spoons.
Australian and NSW enforcer Klemmer's arrival - and a healthy Mitchell Pearce - should lift their ceiling and the performance of players already at the club.
"Hopefully we've got a two-pronged improvement there," Brown said.
"We feel his best years are ahead of him; stable off field, no trouble there and he likes to win and compete, so he ticks lots of boxes."
Players returned to training on Tuesday after the Christmas break, with a streamlined Klemmer reporting in underweight and needing to bulk up.
Incumbent co-captain Pearce admitted his surprise that Klemmer was still just 25.
"I can't believe how young he is ... (he's) achieved so much and I'm just stoked that he's here," he said of the former Canterbury forward.
"We're rich in front rowers this year; the club's done such a good job recruiting.
"We're (the backline) licking our lips with the size we've got up front and the pressure falls on us now because going forward won't be a problem this year."
Pearce's superb form was derailed thanks to a pectoral muscle tear last year, during which the Knights went 2-7.
"Last year was a kick in the guts ... but I've been training as hard as I can, hopefully that leads to good form and a lot of footy this year," Pearce said.