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nib Newcastle Knights Physical Performance Manager Tony Ayoub spoke to Knights TV in the last week of training before a short break over the Christmas period.

Ayoub talked about some of the new arrivals at the Club, how players have been tracking so far and what they expect from the group over the festive break.
New arrivals this week
“Herman Ese’ese started on Monday and we just had Chris Heighington on Wednesday,” said Ayoub.

“Chris came early off his own bat; he wasn’t meant to start until January given the English went all the way to the World Cup final.

“Chris being Chris, an ultimate professional, wanted to come and introduce himself to his new teammates and blow the cobwebs out.

“He’s had a couple of weeks off and wanted to hit the ground running when he came back in January so it was great to see him do a little bit around the boys, get involved and have a bit of fun.

“Herman’s a really impressive man, just a nice gentleman, so far he’s trained really hard.

“He’s got a great work ethic so certainly looking forward to a great time in January, February.”

Player performance

“Everyone this time of the year is going really well, even though we haven’t played anyone,” explained Ayoub.

“From our perspective, from last year to this year, we’re extremely happy and the players have done really well in the gym.

“The guys we were trying to put weight on put an extra couple of kilos on, which is good, so our young blokes have matured another year in terms of skeletally.

“We’re really happy with where they’re at and our on-field testing has shown us we’re heading in the right direction.”

Injury update

“Our three with shoulder injuries, Daniel Saifiti, Mitch Barnett and Tautau Moga have been sensational,” smiled Ayoub.

“The work they have been putting in with the physio, and the work they have been doing in the gym, is just enormous.
“They’ve been relentless with their rehab and the results are starting to pay off but this week we have had them jump into some non-contact skills, which is great.

“We’re looking after them, we’ve got them strapped and we’ve got yellow bibs on them to make sure they’re not doing any contact but they’re chomping at the bit and the signs they’re showing at this stage of their rehab is just enormous.

“We’ve got another five or six weeks before our first trial which they won’t be right for and then we’re hopefully going to get them back for that first game so some positive signs.”
Over the break

“We want the squad to maintain the fitness and strength that they have gained over the last eight weeks,” Ayoub said.

“It’s not a break from training, we still want them to train but we’ve given them programs.

“Some have a biased towards strength and some have a biased towards conditioning, depending where they’re at physically, but there’s no doubt over the next 13 days, we want them to be doing something.

“When we come back on January 4, we’re going to do some testing to see where they’re at and they certainly know they’ve got stuff to be doing over the break.
“We’ll hopefully have only a week, week and a half, of transitioning and then we’re well into our training for our first game.”
Post-Christmas training

“When we come back, the coaches get more time,” added Ayoub.

“The first four weeks after the Christmas break, we’re looking to get a little bit more out of the boys and we’ll still get them with a bit of conditioning, they won’t like it, but we just won’t have as much time.

“Probably more intensity but less periods of time for conditioning and the coaches start to get big chunks of it.

“There’ll be days that we don’t touch them from a conditioning perspective, it’s just all coaching, and that will be gearing them up to play their first trial and the first game.”