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The Newcastle Knights returned to training this week after the Christmas break full of enthusiasm and driven to maintain the momentum built in the previous seven weeks of the pre-season.

Following the return to training, Strength and Conditioning coach Dave Ballard reviewed the week that saw the squad boosted by Four Nations rep players Beau Scott, Joey Leilua, Dave Fa’alogo and Sione Mata’utia.

“Our full squad has been training on the park this week and it’s excellent that we have no injuries, so all the boys are out there tearing in,” Ballard said.

“This week has been a similar set up to before the break.

“For the next block of four weeks we are going to be increasing intensity as we come into our trial matches and the Auckland Nines.

The week consisted speed work and and a light hit out on the first day back on Monday followed by conditioning and skills on Tuesday, light recovery on Wednesday, another intense session on Thursday and lighter skills on Friday.

The squad now has the weekend off before training steps up a level next week. 

One player looking for personal improvement and growth during the pre-seaon is 21-year-old Lachlan Fitzgibbon who is transitioning from the Knights' NYC under 20s to NSW Cup this year.

“It’s tough for sure, there is a bigger emphasis on professionalism and getting the job done and harder training, but it’s good and I’m enjoying it,” Fitzgibbon said.

The young backrower has looked to new recruit Tariq Sims as a benchmark during the pre-season and has challenged himself to keep up with the NRL star.

“He’s in my group for weights and I try to help myself in fitness alongside him, run with him and do everything on the field with him to emulate my game off his.”

Fitzgibbon believes paying closer attention to his diet and stretching has seen him improve during the pre-season and will assist him with the transition from under 20s to grade competition.

“Playing Cup, I think the physicality of it and playing against grown men will be a lot tougher,” he said.

“But training with grown men and doing defense with the older boys will help and hopefully it won’t be too hard."