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It’s week four of pre-season training and nib Newcastle Knights Physical Performance Manager Tony Ayoub was again on hand to provide an update on another hard week on the training track.

This week the players have been put through a number of gruelling tests as coaching staff assess their fitness and one of those was the yo-yo running test.

“The yo-yo is to test where they are at in terms of fitness so we can get an accurate understanding of their conditioning,” explained Ayoub.

“Some of our better ones….. obviously Nick Meaney whose always been a fit young lad has come to the fore again but Coggs (Jack Cogger) is up there, Sam Stone, Connor Watson and one of our great improvers was Pat Mata’utia, who tested really well compared to last year.

“Also, Kingy (Josh King) even Mitch (Barnett) and Daniel (Saifiti) who are both injured, they’ve done wonderfully well.

“There is a multitude of tests out there that you can do but the yo-yo is a bit more specific for what we want but again we‘re happy comparing to last year as they’re a little bit ahead of where they were.”

Ayoub maintains week four has been a particularly tough week for the players with temperatures starting to warm up and upping the ante on their training program.

“They have handled it really well and they’re still really positive,” Ayoub commented.

“We will go into a little bit of a lull week next week….. still train hard, but not as long and not as far in terms of the distances but certainly week four has been a good week for us.”

Ayoub has also been impressed with some of the younger Knights as well as new recruits.

“There is no doubt that the new guys, Kalyn Ponga, Connor Watson, Aidan Guerra and Jacob Lillyman are all doing well,” he said.

“Even some of our guys that have been here, Nick Meaney, Coggs and Sam Stone, they have all just upped the ante themselves and they have been driving each other.

“Jamie Buhrer has been wonderful in that regard, he has just had so much positive talk and you can see Aidan and Jacob Lillyman doing the same.

“We have got to keep our enthusiasm in check and just working hard over the next three or four weeks before Christmas and then test ourselves against other sides when we start playing.”

Ayoub admits a few players that have just started pre-season training, who have been recovering from injuries, have shown dedication in their first week.

“We have got Tautau Moga coming off the back of stabilisation surgery for his shoulder and Jack Johns who obviously fractured his hand in the World Cup playing for Italy,” Ayoub stated.

“They have come back this week, they are running together and they’re just doing their transition this week.

“Tautau has been surprisingly good for us…. for a big fella, he’s taken on everything we have given him and same with Jack, so we’re pretty happy with where they’re at.

“The positive thing with Tautau and Jack, and all our new recruits, is they’ve fitted in well and have taken what we have thrown at them.

“Hopefully at some stage over the next few weeks, maybe after Christmas, Tautau can do some skills with the side because he is surprisingly going well with his shoulder in terms of range seven weeks down the track.”