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SG Ball aiming for strong start

Coach of the nib Newcastle Knights Junior Under 18s side admits they’re getting closer to finalising combinations before the start of the SG Ball Cup.

Scott Dureau maintains they’ve got a talented squad to select from.

“Overall as a squad, they’re going to be successful and most guys are going to get a chance to show their worth throughout the year, " he said.

“There’s quite a number of players that have played and trained really well through the off-season, so there’s probably going to be some disappointed players that don’t make the team in two week’s time.

“They’re travelling nicely, they’re about where we thought they would be and hopefully we’ll be able to hit our stride for the start of the season.”

A number of players from the premiership winning Harold Matthews Cup side last year have been promoted to SG Ball, who will be a year-young for the 2018 season.

“They’ll get a little taste throughout the year and we’ll be sure to manage their workload being a year younger,” added Dureau.

“Having a huge year last year, we’ll look after them, but they’ll continue to learn and develop as players.”

The Under 18s squad has taken part in four trial matches from mid-December which has been handy to boost match play time.

“The first couple were a little bit rusty because they had a lot of time off, especially in this age group, and it was a big break since their last game,” explained Dureau.

“The last two trials against Canberra and Cronulla were a pretty good test against two good teams so we’ve done really well so far and hopefully we can carry that forward into the season.

“The boys have trained really hard up until now, they’re excited and ready for Round 1.”

The Junior Knights coach maintains a short nine round season means they’ll need to be push hard to achieve good results early.

“St George in Round 1 at Cessnock, so if we can play the way we have in our last couple of trial matches, we’ll be competitive and hopefully continue to learn and develop week to week,” he said.

“You can’t take too many weeks to warm up, which is why this year we added an extra training trial game and had four trial games instead of three.

“Hopefully they’ll be fitter for Round 1 and can carry that throughout the year.”