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When you’re buzzing from the best pre-season of your young career, even trial matches can be viewed as a big occasion.


Just ask Knights centre Dane Gagai, a guy who has impressed this summer and can't wait to rip into the NRL season proper.


So while this Saturday's match-up against the Canberra Raiders is only a trial, for Gagai the clash is also a vital chance to capitalise on his good work on the training paddock.


“It’s definitely a serious hit-out,” Gagai says.


“This is our only trial match before round one in two weeks, so we are just looking to perform well.


“I also just want to focus on my own performance, control the ball and put myself in the best position come round one.


"It’s the best pre-season I’ve had so far, so I’m just looking to keep improving and hopefully it will show against the Raiders."


Gagai, who spent part of his summer training at the Michael Johnson Performance-Athletic Training Centre in the USA, says he has significantly improved as a player this pre-season.


As much as he has taken giant strides forward though, the 23-year-old concedes there are still areas of his game he can refine.


"Probably the biggest thing for me is defence," he admits.


"That has been a real big key in my off-season, so it’s just making sure that I’m defensively switched on for the team.


"It’s also about being committed to not letting any tries in down my corner of the field."


Gagai says the Club has enjoyed a solid pre-season of training and nominates rising winger Jake Mamo as the star performer.


"There have been a lot of boys that have stepped up, but Jake has been a real standout in the pre-season," he says.


"So it will be good to see how he goes out on the field."


Gagai is also looking forward to playing in front of a bumper crowd in Tamworth this weekend.


As a proud country boy raised in the North Queensland town of Mackay, the centre knows fully well how important it is for the NRL to play matches in grassroots regions.


"Being from Mackay, it’s always good to get out to these places," he says.


"The people in the bush don’t get to travel too much to see all the big games.


"So being able to come out and bring a game to them is just a great thing we can do to give back to the community.”


Ready to Play Your Part for the Newcastle Knights?


Newcastle Knights Membership and merchandise will be available for sale at the Membership marquee which is onsite from 3pm at Tamworth's trial match at Scully Park on Saturday.


For more information about Newcastle Knights Membership, CLICK HERE.