As the team gets set for the Christmas break, Rick Stone reflects on an impressive seven week block of pre-season training.
"So far everyone has been really enthusiastic and we’ve been happy with their attitude,” Stone said.
However before the break, the team are assembling in Port Stephens for a four-day training camp, starting on Friday.
“We are going up to the Bay to spend a little time to get to know each other a bit better," Stone explained.
“We are going to do some planning and some goal setting and setting some standards.
“They’ll be some fun and some hard work, planning and a little bit of soul searching about where we want to go and what we want to stand for.”
Although all the players have performed solidly during the pre-season, there have been a number of standouts.
“There are the usual candidates," Stone said.
"(Jarrod) Mullo has seemed to perform each time and the new blokes like Carlos (Tuimavave) and Tariq Sims have been really good.
“Some players from the second grade like (Nathan) Rossy have been great as well.”
The coach has also been pleased with the work ethic and attitude of the squad’s youngest members who have stepped up to NYC to train with the NRL during the pre-season.
“Definitely some of our younger Under 20s like Luke Yates and James Taylor need a special mention,” he added.
“Their enthusiasm has been great, their attitude has been terrific and their willingness to work and learn has been good.
“I’d like to think they can get some benefits out of it by the time they play next year.”
With a fit squad there will be a healthy competition for spots when the season kicks off in March.
“It always needs to be hard the first week (with selection), you need some depth in the NRL, and there’s no doubt we have a but more depth now,” Stone said.
“Especially in the outside backs where positions are going to be really competitive and in the halves as well with Carlos’ addition that is going to be important.
“The forwards will always be competitive and that’s how it needs to be.
“Barring injury it’s going to be a really competitive first 17 for the first round.
“There is still a little bit of water to go under the bridge yet with a couple of trials and a few weeks of training left."
The Knights have fared well with minimal injuries during the pre-season to date.
“We’ve had a good run with injuries, a couple of small minor injuries, but it hasn’t kept anyone out too long,” Stone added.
“Aku (Uate) is the only major one, he’s come back from a decent micro fracture surgery which is basically a 12 week rehabilitation period.
“Kurt (Gidley) picked up a little calf strain last weekend and has been on light duties this week.”
There have also been plenty of positives off the field with the Club proudly announcing its major sponsor in Newpave Asphalt as well as Aurizon extending its sponsorship for additional two years on Thursday.
“I think it’s a great show of support and is definitely the type of community connection we’re looking for,” Stone said.
The Club has also had an incredible response to its Membership drive and is quickly approaching its 10,000 Members milestone.
“It’s massively important with our draw and seven out of the first 11 games at Hunter Stadium the first part of the year is going to be massively important," Stone said.
"I’d encourage all those people who haven’t got their Membership to go jump in and go and get it for Christmas and give us a chance to go run out in front of a full stadium.
"I’d like to thank all of the Members, supporters and sponsors. Have a safe and Merry Christmas and we look forward to seeing you at Hunter Stadium in the New Year."