With the Auckland Nines less than a month away, coach Rick Stone says his troops have already commenced preparations for the tournament.
“We’ll do a little bit around the Nines in the next couple of weeks,” Stone said on Monday.
“We did one or two sessions before Christmas around the Nines.
"We’re wanting to probably be a little bit better prepared for the Nines this year.”
While excited to compete in the tournament, Stone is also making sure it does not interfere with the team’s preparation for the 2015 NRL season.
"We’ll have a think about our squad a little bit more, the main thing is taking blokes that have been doing a bit of training pre Christmas, because the helter-skelter nature is that they’re a little bit more susceptible to a soft tissue injury,” he added.
"There are a few more factors that go into injuries with the Nines, that’s for sure.
"We have bigger squads and hopefully we can rest a few players, so they don’t have to play every game, that’s really important.
"We’ll see how it goes and see who’s fit and healthy after the next two weeks of training and make some decisions around that."
Stone will use the next two weeks of training to finalise his squad.
"We have two weeks to assess our group, see who fits best and who’s going to not risk themselves with injury and also add a little bit of spark and X-factor to us," the coach said.
"We’re only going to take players that have done a good pre-season block, making sure we feel like they’ve done the appropriate amount of work to minimize the opportunity for injury.
"There are a few boys coming back late out of the Four Nations and surgeries, but we know we have to take one out of our top five and 12 out of our top 25.
"We’ll still produce a good squad and they’ll be some opportunities to make their mark a bit like Jake Mamo did last year.”
Stone hopes some of his youngsters shine in this year's tournament.
"I think it’s a great opportunity of young blokes to get an opportunity to play," he said.
"Jake Mamo was a real standout last year for us, on the back of is Nines performance it probably gave him a leg up to play NRL throughout the year.
"Hopefully we’ll get a few more younger blokes to get that opportunity and take that confidence out of the Nines into their first game or a couple of games when they get their chance at NRL level."
The Knights reached the quarterfinals after defeating the Gold Coast 25-14 and the Wests Tigers 25-0 before losing to Cronulla 15-12 in the group stage.
The Knights lost 16-11 in the quarterfinals to the Brisbane Broncos, who were the tournament’s runners-up.
"The boys enjoyed their time last year and got looked after well, there are big crowd and big crowd always stimulate players and bring the nest out of the players," Stone said.
"It’s a great atmosphere, a good concept and obviously a massive success last year and expect it to be the same this year.”
This year Newcastle has been grouped in the Rangitoto pool, and will play the Parramatta Eels, Manly Sea Eagles and St George Illawarra Dragons.
The tournament will be played on January 31 and February 1 at Eden Park.