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James de Saxe

To learn how to be the best, you've got to practice like the best. 

That's the simple mentality the Newcastle Knights NYC team has adopted in a bid to teach their young players how to prepare for life as NRL players.

In the wake of their dominate 50-0 victory over Melbourne last Monday, manager Craig Smith has lifted the lid on the team's emphasis on encouraging the players to act like their first grade peers.    

From travelling with the NRL team through to their attitude at training and on game day, Smith says the focus on becoming men is working wonders for the table-topping junior Knights.

“Our emphasis this week was on the fact that this is the closest our guys get to being NRL players," Smith explains.

“They get to follow the NRL team, they get to travel with the NRL team and stay in a hotel.

“So our expectations of them for this week was not to be 17 and 18 year-old boys, but to act like men.

“And I think there was a reflection of that on the scoreboard and their attitude."

Smith says the team can take plenty of confidence out of their strong showing against Melbourne moving forward. 

He pinpoints defence as the key to the Storm win and has called on the side to continue their strong tackling against Cronulla at Hunter Stadium on Sunday. 

“Anytime you come to Melbourne, it’s a long trek to get down here for starters and there is a couple of days of preparation leading up to it," he says.

“So to go away with the points is a good day.

“But to go away with 50 points on the board to nil is a fantastic effort by our boys."

Newcastle had plenty of highlights in their dominant win over Melbourne, but Smith says the most pleasing aspect of the win was the team's attitude.   

"You always get excited about a big win, but the stuff that excites me is based around attitude and that’s defence," he says.

"To hold them (Melbourne) to nil at the end of the day is a great result.

"There is still plenty of improvement and our objective is to get better every week.

"I don’t know how you get better than 50 points, but we are at home against Cronulla and that's a good start."