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The hard work, dedication and steady progress of the Newcastle Knights’ young players during pre-season training may soon be rewarded with coach Nathan Brown indicating they’ll be spots in the Auckland Nines tournament up for grabs for those who have impressed.

“We’d like to give some of the younger guys who are training well an opportunity,” he said on Monday as the squad resumed training after the Christmas break.

With the exodus of a number of the Club’s experienced players at the end of season 2015, Brown has embraced the enthusiasm and hunger of the Club’s young talent who are touted to receive plenty of opportunity to shine in 2016.

“We are probably one of the very few sides that’s lineups fairly unknown,” he said.

“We’ve lost a lot of experienced players and brought a lot of kids up.

“The way the guys train over the next four or five weeks, and then how some of them trial in the game against Canberra is going to tell us a big story."

NRL debuts and the chance to cement regular first grade spots may also be on the cards with a number of forced exclusions for Round 1.

“Our squad is fairly unknown at the moment,” he said.

“Obviously there are going to be players we all recognise who are going to be in the team, but there are a fair lot of spots up for grabs due to suspension and a lot of older players going.

“We’ve only brought in two players of experience and had six or seven guys with a lot of experience go.

“There are a lot of younger players training well, if they can transfer that onto the field they will give themselves a good chance of training in round one."

While Brown indicates acquiring additional recruits in the forwards and outside backs is a possibility, a large focus lies in retaining young talent already at the Club.