Peter Mata'utia has been sledged before but this was different.
"Hearing little girls wearing Knights jerseys saying we are losers, parents saying how much money they spent to bring their kids to the game … it hurts," Mata'utia said.
"That shows how much we mean to the town as well."
With everything to play for – most notably a step towards avoiding a third straight wooden spoon – the Knights were humiliated 33-12 by fellow strugglers Wests Tigers at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.
"I'm trying to work it out myself," Mata'utia said when asked on Monday to explain the result. "We spoke all week about it being a chance to get off the bottom. There shouldn't be more motivation than that to win. We let ourselves down and they seemed to want it more than we did."
Knights chief executive Matt Gidley took the extraordinary measure of writing an email to the board of directors on Monday to apologise for the abysmal performance on what was a "big day" for the club.
"Everyone who is involved with the club whether it is members, supporters, players, administration … we are all disappointed with the performance," Gidley said. "Whenever we play at home we want to give a good account of ourselves. That certainly was below our standard."
A crowd of nearly 20,000, many wearing Hi Vis gear as part of a "voice for miners" awareness day, packed the stadium. However, the buzz which greeted the players at kick-off was replaced by a chorus of "boos" as the Knights went to the break down and out, trailing 20-0.
"It was another lesson for the boys," Gidley said. "Things just don't happen. Great performances don't just happen. You have to work hard and stick to it."
The players arrived in civilian clothes at Knights headquarter for a team video session on Monday with the majority dressed in black, which was symbolic of the mood.
"We definitely have to give something back to the town," Mata'utia said pointing to the clash against Canterbury at Belmore Oval on Sunday.
Mata'utia, the eldest of four siblings at the Knights, is one of 18 players off contract at the Knights.
"It is still between my club and my manager," he said with regards to a new deal. "I definitely want to stay but have not heard anything yet. That is up to my manager to sort out."
The 26-year-old father of three admitted it was difficult "not knowing where you are going to be next year".
"Nine games left and you are probably wondering what will happen next year," he said. "We had a team talk and all the players off contract have made a promise to try their best and keep doing a job for the team."
Mata'utia has played predominately left centre since rejoining the Knights from the Dragons 12 months ago.
The Knights last week signed New Zealand international Shaun Kenny-Dowall, who can play centre, fullback and wing, and are close to securing promising Broncos three-quarter Tautau Moga for 2018.
"SKD is a great signing for the club," Mata'utia said. "He is an international player and will be there at the World Cup at the end of the year. If Tautau comes, he will be a great signing too. He is young, he is big … I'm not too sure where I will fit in. If I stay I will definitely do my part for the team."
Gidley had a message for all off-contract players – "You need to demonstrate you ability and commitment to the team," he said. "If you do that over a period of time you are rewarded with a contract. Contracts aren't given away, they are there to be earned. They are a reward for hard effort and consistent performances."