An undefeated final two months last year saw the Knights overcome a patchy start to make the eight, but they'll be hoping not to rely on something similar in 2024.
Clashes against three 2023 finals teams, plus a tough away trip to Townsville, marks a challenging start for the Knights, but at the other end they spend the final fortnight of the regular season on home soil which could be crucial.
Teams they play twice
Home and away fixtures with the Raiders and Warriors mean treks to Canberra and Auckland in 2024, while they'll take on the defending champion Panthers twice too. The Storm, Bulldogs, Dolphins, Titans and Wests Tigers are the other sides they face twice.
Teams they play once
They won't meet the Rabbitohs or Sharks until the last month of the regular season, while they'll also only see the Dragons, Roosters, Cowboys, Eels, Sea Eagles and Broncos once in 2024.
- Thursday: 2 games (2 home, 0 away)
- Friday: 2 games (2 home, 0 away)
- Saturday: 6 games (2 home, 4 away)
- Sunday: 14 games (6 home, 8 away)
- 5 days: 1 game
- 6 days: 4 games
- 7+ days: 18 games
The biggest challenge on paper here is a five-day turnaround into facing the Dragons in Round 5, which will come off the back of having flown back from New Zealand in Round 4. While taking on last year's grand finalists in consecutive games isn't easy, Newcastle will enjoy a 15-day gap between games against the Broncos (Round 20) and Panthers (Round 22) thanks to having a Round 21 bye.
- Round 1: v Raiders (H)
- Round 2: v Cowboys (A)
- Round 3: v Storm (H)
- Round 4: v Warriors (A)
It looks like being a tough opening month for Adam O'Brien's men, with the Cowboys the only one of their first four opponents who didn't feature in the post-season last year. It all starts with a game against the Raiders, who they knocked out of last year's play-offs, while in Round 4 they return to Auckland, where their 2023 campaign ended at the hands of the Warriors.
Returning to the Magic Round for the first time since 2022 after sitting out last year's event on a bye, they take on a Titans side sure to have a fair chunk of the support at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday. Newcastle have a win and a loss from their previous trips to Brisbane for Magic Round.
State of Origin watch
A bye in Round 16 means no game while players are out for Origin II, with the Knights to back up against the Eels the following week. In Round 13 and Round 19, when players will be missing on Origin duty, Newcastle take on the Bulldogs and Sea Eagles. They'll back up from Origin I and Origin II against the Storm and Broncos who traditionally have been heavily impacted in the rounds following Origin matches.
Can't miss game
Round 1 v Raiders, Thursday at McDonald Jones Stadium (H)
While the Las Vegas double-header will officially kick start the 2024 season, Newcastle will play the first Australian game when they welcome the Raiders to McDonald Jones Stadium – a fixture that saw the Knights edge past the Green Machine in an extra-time thriller in week one of last year's finals series. Newcastle enjoyed one of the strongest average home crowds of any team last year and they'll be hoping for similar support as their season begins on Thursday night prime time.