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The pre-season schedule ramped up in week 11 with a shift of focus towards game preparation and team based activities.

Strength and conditioning coach Dave Ballard returns to review the week that was, with the Auckland Nines tournament just two weeks away.

“We’re sticking to a similar structure, but we still have two more weeks until a couple of games kick off with the Nines and the trials,” Ballard explains. 

“While there’s a similar structure with the weights and the conditioning work, we’re getting into a lot of that team-based work. 

“The kickers and catchers are still doing a lot of the individual work as well as the outside backs while the forwards are doing a lot of work with their contact and line speed.” 

One player who has enjoyed the different atmosphere of 2015 pre-season is 27-year-old halfback, Jarrod Mullen. 

“It’s been solid but I’ve been enjoying it,” Mullen said. 

“When you do the hard training it’s very satisfying because you know you’ve put in the hard work. 

“Getting Bedsy (Buderus) back in an assistant role as well as (Rick) Stoney, there’s a bit of a Newcastle flavor and I think everyone around the town is really grasping what we’re trying to do here.

“We’re bringing back the local culture and everyone’s enjoying coming to training and are digging in.” 

The Newcastle local says he’s paid special attention to improving all aspects of his game including his speed and kicking. 

“With my position, it’s pretty important to have good speed off the mark,” he said.

“Kicking is such a big part of our game, so I’ve been doing a lot more kicking and will keep going with improving every year with long kicks and short kicks.” 

With just weeks away to the Knights’ first crack of the season at the Auckland Nines tournament and trial matches, Mullen says he’s eager to have his chance to take the field. 

“It’s gets a bit like torture training from Monday to Saturday morning and not being able to play on the weekends,” he added.

The Knights will cap off the week with a final session on Saturday morning before kicking week 12 of pre-season off on Monday.

Next week the Auckland Nines team line up will be announced with the squad also set to complete it’s final King Edward Park hill session for the pre-season while also taking part in a community training session at Myuna Bay.