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Spirits were high when the nib Newcastle Knights returned to training on Thursday morning after a short break over the Christmas period.

The players were greeted with some fitness testing to start the new year, and the squad performed to expectation.

Coach Nathan Brown said there is excitement within the squad as the new season approaches.

“We’re all excited, but we’re also mindful that we’ve got a long way to get to where we want to be,” Brown told media after the session.

“We’ve still got a month until our first trial match, so our sports science staff are putting a lot of time into the physical side.

We’re all excited, but we’re also mindful that we’ve got a long way to get to where we want to be.

Nathan Brown Head Coach

“Our players appear to be improving and our rehab group is getting a little smaller every week.”

Shoulder reconstruction trio Mitch Barnett, Daniel Saifiti and Tautau Moga participated in ball work sessions, and are on track for the new season according to Brown.

“Whether everyone will be fit for our first trial match I’m not too sure, but they should all be fit at least for our Parramatta trial game (Saturday February 24).”

“None of the players in the rehab group are seasoned players, so getting a hit-out (before the season) is really important for them.”

And while speculation has been rife regarding who will captain the red and blues in 2018, Brown says an announcement won't be made any time soon.

“We have a few ideas, but a lot of the guys have only just arrived at the Club," Brown explained.

“Mitchell Pearce has only been here for a couple of weeks, Chris Heighington is obviously a very experienced player and has only just arrived.

“Our new players that have come from more successful clubs arrived a fair way into the pre-season, so it certainly isn’t something we’ve put a huge emphasis on yet.”