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The New Year usually brings out the sudden desire to form good habits, but it’s something Robbie Rochow says the Newcastle Knights have been working on since the very beginning of pre-season.

Since new coach Nathan Brown’s arrival, the Knights have been industriously working on new defensive principles, in what Rochow describes as a back to basics approach.

“He’s stripped it right back and we’ve been doing a lot of set starts so you have time to look up and see where you are on the field and make sure you’re getting everything right,” he explained.

“We’re watching a lot of video on it and making sure we’re getting 100 per cent right before we move forward into our 13 v 13 and team type stuff.

“Hopefully all our younger players and even some of our older players can practice those good habits that he’s putting forward for us and it will come out when we start playing football.”

The respite of the recent Christmas break was well received by the workhorse back rower who spent time with his family on the Gold Coast before holidaying near Forster.

“It was a good chance to relax. We don’t get time like that together too often,” he said.

“I was really looking forward to that break after six weeks of solid training for me.”

After an injury marred 2015 season, the fact the 25-year-old is back to full health and has completed every session of the pre-season gives him plenty of reason to feel happy. 

Rochow underwent back surgery in April before breaking his arm in his second match after returning from injury in July. 

Thankfully, he recovered well during the offseason and was ready to launch into another gruelling pre-season. 

“I did every session so that two-week break was really good and I took it really easy and did some bike riding and some rehab stuff,” he said.

“I saw the surgeon about my broken forearm at the start of the pre-season and he decided to leave that plate in and I’m having no problems with it. 

“There’ s no point to risking another operation to get it taken out. 

“From earlier last year with my back, I still do my rehab for that. I haven’t had any dramas with that since mid last year.

“I have to keep up with my rehab, but at the moment I’m feeling fully fit.”

Since the start of training, the Club’s talented, young forwards, who have stepped up to the plate to take on NRL pre-season training with the first grade Knights, have grabbed the attention of Rochow.

“We have a really young group, especially in the forward pack,” he said.

“I think there’s plenty to look out for and they’re all pretty competitive. We want to bring out the best of them.” 

NRL newcomer Joseph Tapine and rookies Daniel and Jacob Saifiti are some of the young Knights he believes will make an impact during the 2016 season. 

“Once they learn those good habit and are working well under fatigue, they’ll be a lot better for it,” he said.

The first chance for the team to put it’s good habits into practice will be the Auckland Nines tournament, an event Rochow is excited about for a number of reasons.

“The Nines is a great experience and I’m really looking forward to some of our young players experiencing that,” he said. 

“You don’t take it too seriously and it’s stripped back a lot. You really get a chance to enjoy yourself. 

“With the Nines and leading into the trial, you want to practice those good habits we’re doing at training.

“Hopefully over the next month, it will probably go really fast, we want to make the most out of every session and making sure we’ve prepared well coming up to that first trial.”