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It’s a fresh start for the Newcastle Knights as the 2017 pre-season officially began on Tuesday morning.

While coach Nathan Brown was critical of the condition in which his squad returned from their holidays this time last year, he was happier with what he saw this time around.

“I think we’re in a better position than we were this time last year,” he said.

“Last year the players had to do a lot of hard work, whether that was in the pre-season or during the actual season, getting into better shape.”

Not only has Brown instated new standards for his team, a host of young players including the Saifiti twins, Jack Cogger, Brock Lamb, Josh King and Cory Denniss have had a taste of what is required in first grade and head into the pre-season with a better understanding of what’s required.

“A lot of the younger guys are certainly more aware of what first grade is about, having played a fair number of games last year,” Brown explained.

“A lot of those guys are definitely in the position to have a better pre-season and improve.

“A big part of that is knowing what is required… there’s definitely a number of players that have turned up physically better.

“In saying that, we’ve got a lot of work to do if we want to get to the stage where we’re a Club that is looked up to or admired.”

Brown explained that different players would be set different goals this pre-season, based on the findings of the Club’s high performance unit.

“There’s a fair bit of individualisation there,” Brown said.

“There’s a fair number of players that are still working on getting big enough, and then there are some who need to get fitter and drop a little bit of weight.

“Different blokes will be put in different categories, but we certainly don’t want to get a player carrying too much weight if it isn’t his natural weight.”

On top of the physical side of the game, there will also be focusing on the team’s defensive structures.

“We’ve got our defensive part of the game, which we were really poor at last year,” he stated.

“If we can get physically better and improve our technique, then that will help the big picture.”