You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content

Early on Saturday morning the Newcastle Knights squad found themselves standing at the bottom of a towering sand dune south of Redhead Beach.

Over the next hour the players would be making countless runs up and down the mammoth slope under instruction from Head of Physical Development Colin Sanctuary.

The bright summer sun was pounding down and every gasp for air a struggle, but every player made it to the finish line.

It was clearly punishment in the short term, but come Round 1 of the 2016 season the players will be thankful.

“Starting was probably the hardest part, because you have a few demons before you even start,” Sione Mata’utia told Knights TV.

“Then I struggled through the middle part of it, because I sort of emptied the tank at the start.”

New recruit Mickey Paea was glad to still be standing at the end of the challenge.

“I’m just happy to be alive!” he laughed.

“It’s been a good building block, we’re starting to crank things up at training and we’re slowly getting familiar with the systems that (coach Nathan) Browny is putting in place.”

Paea was also pleased with the way the youngsters in the squad acquitted themselves on the sand, singling out several of the forwards for their admirable work ethic.

“Fitzy (Lachlan Fitzgibbon) was impressive. Luke Yates as well, they’re all training well at the moment and no one’s moaning and groaning,” the Tongan international said.

“Everyone’s just getting on with the job and it’s good for the older guys like me because they’re helping me and pushing me.”

Tariq Sims was as surprised as Paea that he managed to finish the session.

“The last run where we all had to go to the pole that I couldn’t even see from the bottom… I was starting to black out,” Sims admitted.

“There were a couple of times when I thought my legs would fall off, but they didn’t.

“We stuck together and ended up battling through it.”

The challenge was as much a mental exercise as it was a physical one, and it will give the players a little extra to draw on come next season.