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Harold Matthews set to kick-off season

It’s less than two weeks until the nib Newcastle Knights Under 16s kick off their 2018 season in the Harold Matthews Cup.

Coach Rory Kostjasyn admits preparations have progressed well following four trial matches since mid-December last year and a recent three-day camp.

“We have just got back from a camp at Bonny Hills and we were much improved after that, so we are looking forward to Round 1 in two weeks time,” said Kostjasyn.

“While we don’t take the result of trial matches too much into account, the processes that we’ve been practicing showed some improvement across the board, so pretty happy with that.

“We learned some valuable lessons at the trial match against Canberra, which was two weeks ago, about preparation and this week we prepared and performed a lot better.

“It’s been a good pre-season, but it won’t mean too much if we don’t take it into Round 1.”

The Under 16s side line up against St George for their first match on Saturday, February 10.

The junior competition is a nine-round season, before the finals series kicks off in mid-April.

In his first year of coaching, Kostjasyn is hopeful they can replicate another successful season, after the Knights Harold Matthews side took out the decider last season, but his priority is the development of young talent.

“The main thing I’m trying to do is develop our young kids into better footballers and hopefully some of these guys will be able to play or be in the SG Ball squad a year-young next year,” explained Kostjasyn.

“It’s a completely different team, none of the guys that played in the Harold Matthews team last year are in our squad.

“A lot of them have played Rebels U15s development, some junior rep footy and local footy together but mainly for us just building their core skills and defensive principles.”