Newcastle Knights coach Rick Stone invited retired Hawthorn player Ben Dixon to training on Monday, to take a session with the backs.
Dixon, who hung up the boots in 2007 after playing 203 games, is a brother-in-law of Knights forward Clint Newton and met Stone at the recent Jack Newton Celebrity Classic.
“I was luckily enough to meet Rick Stone and decided to get involved a little with the boys in terms of the technical stuff, the kicking and catching game which is obviously pretty important in AFL,” Dixon explained.
“Anything I can bring and they take away which may help, a small marginal gain, that is a win for me.”
Dixon focused on kicking and catching with the backs at his first session on Monday at the University of Newcastle.
“Stoney and I had a lengthy discussion about tracking the ball and the ability for centres and wingers to get involved in the contest,” Dixon explains.
“In rugby league the critical parts of scoring tries and where those kicks go, it is about reading it and where your body should be positioned.
“Then with the kicking game, it is about getting as many metres as you possibly can, and that is just a technical thing.”
Dixon liked what he saw following his first session with the Knights.
“Rick Stone is pretty passionate in the way he coaches, you can see he has a real understanding of the small gains in the game and it is going to be a pretty exciting year,” he said.
And while not based in Newcastle, he plans to return for additional coaching sessions.
“There are so many elements between AFL and NRL that you’d be crazy not to use it,” Dixon said.
“I enjoy the coaching side of things… so to branch into another code like rugby league, especially with the Knights who I follow, I will be back a bit.”
For Stone, he was pleased with how the first session under Dixon went.
"I think we can borrow things from a lot of sports to be honest, and we can definitely borrow a few things from the AFL," Stone said on Monday.
"Some of their focuses are a little bit more acute, particularly around the kicking and the marking, so I thought surely we could take some expertise out of those particular areas.
"Ben has been watching the game pretty closely over the past couple of years, he obviously has some experience with the Hawks and he did the Foxtel AFL show 'The Recruit' as well.
"His schedule is pretty tight because he's down in Melbourne but if we can get him up here a couple of times that would be good.
"He seems to have a pretty good personality and the boys warmed to him pretty quickly… and I think they took some pretty good pointers from it."