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Pre-season wrap with Tony Ayoub: Week 11

Pre-season wrap with Tony Ayoub: Week 11

Pre-season wrap with Tony Ayoub: Week 11

nib Newcastle Knights Physical Performance Manager Tony Ayoub says staff are continuing to up the ante as players edge closer to Round 1 and are just weeks away from the Club’s first trial match.

It’s week 11 of pre-season training and Ayoub again had a chat with Knights TV about where the squad is at, the hard work leading into the trials, combinations, young players with some positive gains and what’s in store for next week and Australia Day.

Heads down

“The boys are taking everything we give them, and we’ll continue to up the ante for another couple of weeks until we play our first trial and then into our main trial against Parramatta in Maitland, so we’re pushing ahead,” explained Ayoub.

“There’s no doubt with the heat, just how hard the boys are training and although there are a few guys certainly struggling, you’ll find just about every NRL club in the same boat... particularly with the young guys that aren’t used to those loads."

Combinations a treat

“The coaches are taking more and more time out of our sessions in terms of strength and conditioning,” added Ayoub.

“The coaches are trying to forge combinations and we’re starting to see that.

“Each week we’re having a fairly vigorous opposed session where there’s full on contact, mixing the combinations up and you can start to see there’s some combinations forming.”

Young guns on show

“It’s quite exciting to watch some of the boys, even our younger guys like Sam Stone and Cory Denniss, (Luke) Yates, (Josh) King, even Pasami (Saulo) at the beginning of the pre-season and how he is travelling now,” maintained Ayoub.

“Pasami is one of our young guys that has come up, started at 103kg and he’s now at 107.5 kilos so he’s got a fair bit of muscle mass and you can see the changes in his shape.

“It will take him a while to develop and hold that weight, to be comfortable because at some of our longer sessions, he struggles at the back end carrying that extra weight.

“You look at someone like Sam (Stone) who has put on four to five kilos… last year he ran really well and now has put on the extra weight this year and is really holding it quite well and training the house down.

“That’s the plan because they’re playing against guys who are 100 plus kilos, the front rowers are 110 to 120 kilos right across the board.

“If we can make them stronger, a little bit bigger, they’ll absorb that impact a lot more and become a bit more resilient."

Keen for the trials

“The boys are ready right now, they’re over the training in pre-season,” laughed Ayoub.

“When you get knocked out early and you don’t make the semis, that’s the down side, you get more time to prepare them but at the same time the danger is you can run the risk of wearing them out.

“You’ve got to try and find a balance, try to work them and continue to improve.

“We’ve still got another couple of weeks of hard work ahead of us, looking at our loads and what we’re trying to do with them.

“They’re over listening to my voice and listening to the strength coach, all they want to do is go out and play but unfortunately for them, we’ve got another couple of weeks to hammer them.”

Australia Day plans

“This year particularly they have taken what we have given them so as a bit of a reward, we’re going to change our training around a little bit next week,” said Ayoub.

“We’re going to come in for half a day on Australia Day and they’re going to have the afternoon to themselves.

“They’re a good bunch, they get on really well so they’re going to organise something… if it’s not too hot probably a game of cricket, a barbie and enjoy the weekend.

“Jamie Buhrer, who is our social director, saw me a couple of weeks ago and asked what are we doing Australia Day, and put a seed in my mind.

“From a load perspective, I’d like to get in a decent day with them, but they’ve earned that reward and we’re going to give it to them, it will be a really light morning and then they can go off and enjoy the day.”