As the pre-season approaches it's end, the Newcastle Knights' Strength and Conditioning Coach Dave Ballard speaks to skipper Kurt Gidley about his take on how pre-season has panned out.
At the start of next week, the Knights dive head first into game preparation for the Round 1 clash against the New Zealand Warriors on Saturday March 7.
Gidley has completed his fair share of pre-seasons throughout his career spanning more than a decade with the Knights, but rates this one as the best in a while.
“I've been through plenty," Gidley grins.
“I've probably missed the last few in previous years due to different operations at the end of the year.
"This year I was back day one in November and have basically trained all but a week throughout and am feeling really good and ready to go.”
The 32-year-old had his first game of the year last weekend in the Knights’ trial match against the Canberra Raiders and says he, like the entire squad, is eager for the official season to commence.
"It's always good to be starting to play games and certainly the one in Canberra was a good one under our belt and under the way,” he said.
"We have this weekend off and it all rolls around next week.
"Everyone is pretty excited, having our first game at home is always exciting for all the boys and our fans.”
Gidley has also enjoyed the experience of this year’s pre-season under coach Rick Stone and his coaching staff, attributing much of the team’s progress to their guidance.
"Stoney is a local fella who grew up around the area, so I think all our fans can understand where he's come from. He's across right through to our junior system and even the guys in local league," he said.
Likewise, Assisant coaches Danny Buderus and Craig Sandercock have made a considerable impact on the development of the squad.
“He's a champion fella Danny and has been really helpful throughout the pre-season,” he added.
"He's got so much knowledge and experience in the game.
“Craig is really good with our video and education stuff and trying to improve on my game to start with my being captain, but right through to our rookie players.
Not one to usually single out teammates, the captain noted the hard work of Tyler Randell who has made his progression through the Knights development system.
“He’s been a guy that has stood out for me and has come through the grades,” he said.
“He's come from reserve grade last year and this is the first time training fulltime during the whole off season with the main squad.
“Throughout the pre-season he's filled in in the halves and in hooker.
“He got picked in the Nines which was well deserved and think you'll see more of him throughout the year.
"I'm also a big fan of Jake Mamo and the way he trains. He does everything a 100 miles an hour."
The count down is on for the start of the 2015 season! The best way to support the Knights is to be UKNIGHTED as a Member. Get decked out in red and blue and be at the game when the Knights face the New Zealand Warriors for Round 1 on March 7.