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The nib Newcastle Knights have returned from the festive break and are back into week 10 of pre-season training.

Physical Performance Manager Tony Ayoub spoke to Knights TV about how the players have hit the ground running, how injured players continue to track and the good work of the side’s young forwards.

Back to the grind

“Nathan (Brown) made a point of it before the players went off for the Christmas break about where he wanted them to be after having 12 days off,” explained Ayoub.

“That talk also included where they want to be at the end of pre-season.

“We saw a lot of guys come in over the break and train off their own bat, with training programs from the performance department.

“It’s great to see from a cultural perspective, where we are headed as a Club, and their effort over the break has showed in the seven/eight days since we have been back.

“We have really hit the ground running, we haven’t lost too much, which is a real positive thing from a strength and conditioning perspective.”

The road to recovery for injured players

Ayoub admits their injured players are showing early positive signs.

“You look at Tautau (Moga), Mitch Barnett and Daniel Saifiti in particular, they’re coming off the back of shoulder reconstructions of different sort and they’re doing some really controlled stuff,” added Ayoub.

“When the other players are doing contact, we try and get them off to the side because we haven’t got the all clear from the two different surgeons that operate on those three but that’s coming in the next two to three weeks.

“We’ve got Daniel and Mitch at about 15 or 16 weeks now, really the time that we start to open them up and getting into the skills.

“We can see improvements in the gym, their strength gains and the same with Tautau, he’s just enormous with what he can do.

“Every day he’s enthusiastic, he wants to do more, although we have to let nature take its course.

“Hopefully over the next month we’ll see them phase into it once we’ve got the all clear from the surgeons.

“Pasami (Saulo) is coming back from a knee injury prior to Christmas, he’s done two running sessions this week and looks absolutely fabulous.

“We expect him to be back in the main group within the next week or two.

“Dylan (Phythian) is coming along sensationally and you look at the development he has got in his leg after that long battle with the second ACL.

“Luke (Portese) has just done a wonderful job building up his strength, it’s really paying dividends, he’s got the strength and the confidence.”

Coaching dominance

“It’s a bit of a tug of war between us and the coaches, the strength and conditioners have still got about a month of decent work and we have another three weeks before our first trial,” smiled Ayoub.

“Each day we do some element of conditioning but there’s no doubt the coaches are taking up more and more time.”

“That will continue to happen as time goes on but that is just a natural progression as we are getting into the season and it is up to the coaches to make those new players gel together.”

Young forwards impress

“We have to sometimes remind Josh King that he is training against our players and not to hurt them but they are all going fantastically,” laughed Ayoub.

“Pasami looks good and what he did pre-Christmas with our training while Zac Hosking was there for a while and Tyrone Amey.

“The two Saifiti boys, compared to where they were 12 to 24 months ago, Nathan has got them to great lengths and it’s an exciting time.

“You can see the gains in them from a physical perspective, they’re all starting to put some good weight on and they are certainly getting stronger work ethic.

“The young guys are being led by our older guys and the new guys that have come.

“We’ve just got to keep working hard, we’ve been in a bad spot the last couple of years and we’ve got to work our way out of it and the only way to do that is to continue working hard.”