Nathan Brown oversaw the start of pre-season on Thursday morning, marking the first official business with the team since taking the helm as the Newcastle Knights’ head coach.
As the playing squad lined up to take on the challenging beep test, which launches the 2016 pre-season, Brown was full of optimism about the fresh start it presented the players and the Club.
The beep test, a 20-metre shuttle run which acts as a progressive cardiovascular endurance test, is a way to gauge the initial fitness level of players as they return from the off season. It involved the squad’s youngest players experiencing their first fulltime pre-season, to the side’s NRL mainstays.
“There’s a lot of unknown and lot of young kids who are either coming into training for their first full pre-season…you’ll probably get a bit better indication over the next six or seven weeks,” Brown said following Thursday’s return session.
“I’ve been down this path plenty of times and you certainly shouldn’t, and don’t want to make any judgments too early.
“The guys have got a starting point and there are ones who are in reasonable shape and ones who could drop a bit of weight and work a little harder.
“They will all get certain targets and certain goals and in another six or seven weeks you will get a better indication of where certain individuals want to head to.”
Thursday’s session marked the start of a long and grueling pre-season, which Brown hopes will build the foundation of a strong and consistent 2016 season for the Knights.
“There’s a lot of work to do and you don’t finish down the bottom of the table for no reason, but there’s certainly enough talent to work with,” he said.
“It’s a good time to introduce some new players and young local kids.”
What Brown also intends to strengthen is the Club’s relationship with the community and believes the success of both goes hand-in-hand.
“The big thing from my point of view and the rest of the staff’s point of view is you want your squad to be committed and have good discipline and to compete hard,” he said.
“If we can get that on a consistent basis to start with, at least the town will have something to support and will be proud of that.
“They will appreciate a team that works hard. It’s a working class town so that’s a good starting point for us at the moment."
His ultimate vision for the Club involves developing and introducing local, emerging talent to the NRL.
“Hopefully over the journey, we can keep more of our good, young, local players and introduce them into first grade over a period of time and hopefully they are proud of the team and understand what the team was built on in the 80s and early 90s,” Brown said.
A portion of the squad returned on Thursday with the remaining members due to return from next week, depending on their involvement in NSW Cup finals as well as injury.
Once the entire playing group is together, Brown says the side will begin to formulate standards and goals to guide the team into next season.
“Over the next two weeks we will have everyone back at training and will sit down as a group and will assess a few things,” he said.
“The big key will be in trying to get some consistency.
“If we can be consistent with what we do off the field and at training, hopefully that will transfer onto the field and we’ll get more solid performances on a regular basis."
Since arriving in Newcastle a month ago, Brown has settled with his family in Dudley and is enjoying becoming a part of his new home town.
“It’s a bit like where I grew up, it’s quite relaxing and I feel pretty settled there," he explained.
“I’ve served my time in England and had a great time over there, but it’s also great to be back in a nice town with a nice coastline.
“It’s a good town and being a country boy myself, the people are friendly which is always nice.”
CLICK HERE and stay true by becoming a 2016 Newcastle Knights Member.