Following the conclusion of the fifth week of pre-season training on Friday afternoon, Knights TV sat down with Physical Performance Manager Tony Ayoub to see how the team has been travelling over the last seven days.

Condition of the squad

“We’re pretty happy with where we’re at,” Ayoub said following a demanding session in the heat on Friday morning.

“We’ve given them the afternoon off because we’re pretty happy with where they’re at.”

It’s a sign of how much effort the squad has been putting in that the coaching staff was happy to give the players a break, but it will all be kicking off again on Saturday morning with another weights session.

“We really want them to recover this afternoon and then have a decent weights session tomorrow,” Ayoub explained of the decision.

“We’re just trying to build towards a crescendo in the next couple of weeks, and then progress in January.”

Training in the heat

With summer now here, the temperatures continue to rise as the players push themselves for further improvements ahead of the 2017 season.

It’s just as much a mental challenge as a physical one, and something that the coaching staff uses to further challenge the team.

“It was a good couple of hours out there, but training in these sort of conditions certainly holds us in good stead for the coming season,” Ayoub reported.

“Some of the bigger blokes in this heat have been impressive.”

While Pauli Pauli is undoubtedly one of the bigger players in the NRL, Ayoub says he has been surprised by just how well he has dealt with the soaring temperatures.

“I thought Pauli would wilt under the pressure of the heat today, but he looked great,” he added.

“He’s a year down the track, he’s a little bit more mature and he’s pulling some of the other boys along.”

Injuries within the squad

Currently there is a few minor injuries throughout the squad that has prevented players from joining the main group.

Ayoub says that will change next week though, with multiple players returning to running drills and then ball work soon after.

“Korbin Sims unfortunately rolled his ankle pretty badly at training ten days ago,” he said.

“We expected him to be in a boot for at least two weeks, but he was out of the boot yesterday doing lots of rehab stuff.

“I’m pretty confident that we’ll get him into a skills sessions later next week.”

Veteran halfback Trent Hodkinson is another player that has spent more time in the gym than on the field lately, but Ayoub explained that this is a new strategy that should pay off next year.

“Trent could be out there training at the moment,” he said.

“But we thought the best course of action for him would be to hold him back and just focus on his strength in his knee and his glute, and then slowly bring him in after Christmas.

“At the moment he’s looking a lot better for it, and he says he’s feeling a lot more comfortable with where his knee is at.”