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You only have to watch Kurt Gidley in the rehab room to gain a true appreciation of the determination driving the Knights skipper for 2014.


On the back of two seasons plagued by constant injury setbacks, Gidley is training like a man possessed and it's there for everyone to see with his effort in each session.


Just ask Director of Performance Jeremy Hickmans, who says the Knights' main man has recovered well from off-season surgery on his right foot and is on track to start the season against the Panthers on March 8.


"Kurt is actually going along better than expected," Hickmans tells Knights TV.


"He started running on the de-loaded treadmill over Christmas and he has responded really well to that.


"So we are looking to start him running next week.


"The biggest thing with Kurt at the moment is actually holding him back.


"He is raring to go, so we just have to manage his loads and look after him."


Prop Kade Snowden is another player who will start running next week after off-season surgery on his knee.


Snowden suffered a minor setback over the break with an infection of his knee, but Hickmans says the Italian World Cup representative should be fine to play in some of the upcoming trial matches.


Meanwhile, winger James McManus' ankle injury is recovering well and forward Adam Cuthbertson has started skills training again after off-season surgery on his groin.


Forward Beau Scott strained his back at training during the week, but it's not serious and he will be ready to go for the start of the season.


Hickmans says it has been a tough pre-season for the players, but their spirits have been lifted with the return of World Cup stars like Aku Uate, Korbin Sims and Joey Leilua.


Fellow World Cup reps Darius Boyd and David Fa'alogo will return to training for the first time on Monday.


"All the World Cup guys have returned and they are training really well," he says.


"They’ve all looked after themselves and it has given the team a bit of a lift to have all those guys back in."


The Knights also have the Auckland Nines tournament to prepare for this pre-season, but Hickmans stresses it hasn't altered the Club's training schedule.


“We don’t change much, obviously we are preparing more for the season," he says.


“It’s nice to go over to the Nines and do well, but it’s not the biggest priority of the season.


“I think Wayne is doing a couple of drills out there, which helps with a lot of the skills.


“But it doesn’t change our pre-season a lot, we just factor that in with the trials and the playing side.”


Hickmans has no doubts Newcastle will be ready for 2014, especially with the signing of former Broncos, Queensland and Australian representative Kevin Walters as a halves coach.


Throw in recently retired Club legend Danny Buderus as a mentor for the hookers and the Knights are certainly well equipped in the clipboard ranks.


“It’s great to have those guys around," he enthuses.


“Kevie has obviously got that much experience and he has got a few premiership rings behind him.


“He is great to have around the place and the players love him being there, because he has a wealth of experience to pass onto them.


“So there are a few decent coaches out there now, so it's exciting times ahead."