Competition within the ranks of the Newcastle Knights is pushing its players harder.
It’s the case with starting second rower Robbie Rochow, who faces stiff competition for his spot in new recruit Tariq Sims when he is eligible for selection from Round 5 as well as young talent Joseph Tapine, who’s determined to earn his chance in the NRL.
So it was no wonder the 24-year-old Maitland junior came out of the gates firing on Saturday against the New Zealand Warriors.
“We have a lot of competition in the forwards, at the end of the day you have to perform to stay in this forward pack which is always a good thing for your performance,” he told the media on Wednesday.
Rochow scored in the 74th minute, which well and truly established the Knights’ win, while gaining 140 metres and making 23 tackles during his 80-minute performance.
“We’ve been training for three months and that was my goal, to start well,” Rochow added.
“I’ve been fully fit, so I have no excuses not to start well.
“There’s a lot of things we can clean up and a lot of things we can improve from that game, but to get a win is good.
“For me personally, there’s a lot defensively that we looked at. There’s a lot, that when you get tired, isn’t as clean and clinical as you’d expected.
“I think with just a generally fitness improvement over the next few weeks it will be easier.
“Obviously our effort was there, but we’re not going to beat every tram with that performance."
Rochow says the Knights are eager to continue the side’s momentum with a round two win over the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday.
“It would be great to go two from two and that’s all we’re looking at the moment,” he said.
"I really rate the Cowboys and think they have a great forward pack.
"They will really tough this weekend and are not expecting anything else."
It’s a similar story for Clydsdale, who says a part of his personal drive feeds from the support of the versatile utility Tyler Randell.
Randell made his NRL debut in round 25 last year and had a exceptional game on Saturday, showing his versatility when the team was shuffled due to injury.
“Tyler is a really good player and it keeps me honest and working harder to keep trying to cement the spot,” Clydsdale said.
The 22-year-old Clydsdale topped the side’s tackle count in his 64 minute performance.
He says he’s constantly striving to make improvements in his game and values each time he’s named in the starting side.
“I had that shot on the weekend and hopefully I keep improving from there and see what happens,” he added.
“We have a lot to improve from the weekend, but it will be a good challenge and I’m really looking forward to it.
“Beds (Buderus) and I work pretty closely together…he’s helped me out big time with my game this year.
“I’m very thankful for that.”
Coming into Round 2 against the Cowboys on Saturday, he’s already begun to size up the opposition.
“They have some big players up there like Johnathan Thurston, so hopefully we can continue what we started," Clydsdale added.
“We are in for tough game and are looking forward to the challenge.
“I have to get my defense right and not let down the bloke inside me.”