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Digital image by Shane Wenzlick

Few players are named captain in their first game for a new club but Knights Nines skipper Jamie Buhrer believes the pressure to lead a young group will help him to grow as a player.

After seven NRL seasons with the Sea Eagles Buhrer was recruited to Newcastle to help instil the right work ethic into the youngest playing group in the NRL and demonstrate what it takes to succeed in the NRL.

Injuries have kept Buhrer to just 22 games in the past two seasons but in the second half of last season the 27-year-old displayed the type of form that earned him a State of Origin jersey for New South Wales in 2012.

He played every minute of eight games in a row between rounds 17 and 25 and ran for more than 100 metres on each occasion, including one effort of 208 metres against the Dragons.

It proved again what a damaging runner of the football he can be and he believes the additional leadership responsibility he has now accepted at Newcastle will allow him to develop his game even further.

"There has been a little pressure but more so from myself," Buhrer told on the eve of the Downer NRL Auckland Nines.

"I feel I've pushed myself more than I have in any other pre-season to set that example and that standard. It's going to benefit me long term as well.

"Obviously the extra pressure I put on myself to be a leader at training, not just by voice but leading with my actions, that all has the potential to make me a better player.

"You never stop learning in rugby league so a new coaching staff and a new perspective I'm hoping are going to enable me to push my game to the next level."

With that onus to set the standard at training resting comfortably on his shoulders, Buhrer is now ready to lead his new club and defy the pundits that are predicting another difficult year for the Novocastrians.

"It certainly is a privilege. It's been a long pre-season toiling away beside these boys and to be able to lead them out and play alongside them finally is very exciting," he said.

"[The leadership] is certainly something that I've embraced and something that excited me from the get-go and so far through the pre-season I feel as though I've done a reasonable job and now it's time to play some footy."