The Newcastle under 15s Chargers side look to emulate the same type of professionalism and intensity of the NRL Knights after observing first grade’s training sessions this week.
The squad watched on at the Knights' pre-season training facility at Newcastle University with the aim to witness first hand the standard of a first grade training session.
Chargers coach, Laurie Clifton says he’s already seen improvements in the young squad.
“We had our own training session planned to follow us watching them, and it was a greatly improved session. It sort of lifted them a bit,” Clifton said.
While the players observed the senior squad go among their pre-season training the coach spoke to the Chargers team about how it relates to their own training and games.
Captain Kurt Gidley also took time to meet the youngsters before they brushed shoulders with other NRL stars in the team’s training and gym areas.
“Our program runs in a similar way to what first grade does, just not as complicated,” Clifton said.
“The core skills are all the same to what they do, so they were just getting an insight into what the NRL Knights do.
“It’s all part of the learning process, you can talk about it, visualise it and draw it.
“For them to have the vision of how it’s done now, it’s ideal.
“One of my aims of the season is getting the players to communicate on the field.
“It was a great chance for them to listen to what goes on with the communication side of things.
The Chargers team consists of some of the most talented players throughout the Knights’ catchment areas in the Hunter, Singleton and the Upper Hunter, Central Coast, Taree and Port Macquarie.
To attend training and games is a significant commitment for many of the players and families who live in outlying areas of Group 1 and 2 rugby league communities.
Not only do the aspiring league stars boost their playing skills through their involvement with the Chargers, but also gain life lessons and meet new people.
“Kids become friends for life whether they make first grade for the Knights or not,” he said.
The team begins the first of its four games at the end of the month then meets once a month to prepare for a football carnival in July.
“Their goals for the year are all about improving their skills, there’s no pressure on them, it’s not about winning,” he said.
“It’s all about improving their skill areas, becoming better footballers and more professional.
“They get treated similar to all their junior rep sides and my aim is to prepare them for the Harold Matthews in the following year.”
“There have been quiet a few who have progressed from the Chargers side. We’ve had Sione Mata’utia and Adam Clydsdale come through the Knights' junior program and they now play with first grade.
“I enjoy seeing the progression of players every year.”
Meanwhile, the Knights’ U16s and U18s Juniors will have trial matches against Manly at Dora Creek on Saturday with game kickoffs at 4pm and 5.30pm respectively.