For captain Kurt Gidley and a number of the Newcastle Knights, this Saturday’s trial marks the long awaited chance to get back on the field.
“I’m looking forward to it, it has been a long pre-season, but it always is though when you start back in November,” Gidley told Knights TV.
“Everyone is pretty excited and keen to practice what we’ve been training now.”
Coach Rick Stone says the strong NRL squad named to play the Canberra Raiders in Queanbeyan gives an indication of who he plans to play in Round 1, seeing this weekend’s the trial match operate as true test run for the team.
“There were a few guys that played in the game last week up at Wauchope, but I guess this is our strongest squad we can put together,” Gidley said.
Despite the solid line-up, he acknowledges competition for spots in the squad that has not only seen a boost of emerging players who have progressed through the ranks, but the Club’s new recruits as well.
“There are some guys fighting for positions, which is challenging, but think that’s pretty healthy for the team,” he added.
“I think everyone is excited and looking forward to it, we all know Round 1 comes around in only a couple of weeks."
Gidley believes Saturday’s game will be all about translating four months of pre-season training into a cohesive performance on the field.
“We have to make sure we do the things we’ve been practicing at training to make sure we can improve on a few things that we do in this game,” he said.
Outside exploring the team’s chemistry on the field for the first time in 2015, Gidley’s first intention for himself and his teammates is to get through the match unscathed.
“That’s always the thing in a trial game, you want to get through it and be there Round 1,” the 32 year-old said.
“First game back you don’t want too many errors, or any at all if possible, just a solid performance but nothing over the top I think."
Winger Aku Uate is in the same boat as the Knights’ skipper facing up to his maiden match of the year.
“I’m very excited and have been training well,” Uate said.
“I’m really looking forward to this game as it’s my first hit out before the season starts."
The Fijian international says he’s confident in his recovery from a knee injury sustained at the back end of last season.
“I’m feeling 100 per cent, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t be playing if wasn’t going to be 100 per cent,” he assured.
“My knee is feeling great and I just can’t wait to play on Saturday.
“Colin (Sanctuary) and all the trainers have been doing a great job with me in rehab."
Uate is looking to clock up some valuable game time to boost his preparation for the season’s start on March 7.
“If I can get 60 minutes this weekend it will be good so I’m confident for the first game,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tyrone Roberts is eager for the chance to play an 80-minute match with his teammates in the red and blue.
“I look forward to just playing with the boys. I haven’t really had a chance to play with the boys yet,” Roberts said.
“I think coming into Saturday we just have to stick to the basics.
“I can’t wait to see how our full side goes out there, to see how well we’ve trained and put it into practice."
Unlike Uate and Gidley, Roberts has garnered a number of warm ups playing in the Auckland Nines tournament and the NRL All Stars match last week.
“It was just a bit of an eye-opener really,” he said about his role in the Indigenous All Stars side.
“I’ve come out of it feeling fresh and good with no injuries.
“I’ve learned a lot in the past week so I just cant’ wait to get out on Saturday and rip in."
The 23-year-old half back is looking to replicate the form he produced in the blockbuster All Stars match where he managed a number of try assists including a spectacular kick that delivered a try for South Sydney’s Greg Inglis.
“I guess it was that I was just around the ball, it got thrown to be and it came off instinct,” he explained.
“I knew I had to find something. I kicked it across field and I was surprised that Greg Inglis was there and it was a good start to a good win.”