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It’s week 13 of pre-season training at the nib Newcastle Knights and Physical Performance Manager Tony Ayoub sat down to chat about what’s been happening this week.

Coaching staff haven’t taken the foot off the pedal as Ayoub reveals an update on injured players, preparations for next week’s trial match and players readiness before their first hit-out.

Business as usual

“While we’ve got our eye on the trial, we’re still focused on the pre-season and doing things according to our plan,” explained Ayoub.

“The coaches have geared more up to the trial side of things but from a strength and conditioning perspective, we’re still ploughing ahead, and we’ll try and go another couple of weeks before we really start to taper off.”

Ready and raring to go

“The players were ready a few weeks back,” laughed Ayoub.

“We’re trying to drag every little bit out of them in terms of improvements and fitness, because you can never be too fit.

“Certainly, the way the game has gone with contact, the strength side of things is so important, so all the coaching staff are still trying to get a lot more out of them.

“The pre-season is such a long time when you finish as early as we did, and you’ve got to get them back into it early because you need to try and reach those benchmarks.

“We’d like to get a little more out of them but from the players perspective they’re well and truly ready to go.”

Out of the yellow jersey

Tautau Moga, Mitch Barnett and Daniel Saifiti have all recently commenced full contact training with the squad.

“All of them are coming along really well, they’ve each seen the surgeons over the last couple of weeks and have been given the all clear to start some contact,” added Ayoub.

“I think the other players have been taking it easy on them, but they haven’t been taking it easy on the other players, they’ve been whacking them, so I’ve got no doubts they’re strength is up.

“They’re a bit of rusty, they haven’t done it for such a long time, so they’re timing is slightly out but we’re not putting them into situations where we think we’re going to do any damage.

“They’re forging ahead and they’re hopefully going to be right for our first game.”

Melbourne trial match

A squad of 26 have been announced to play the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park in a closed match trial on Wednesday afternoon.

Ayoub said those who won’t travel, will be back at Knights headquarters, continuing their usual training schedule.

“We split the groups; the guys that aren’t going down for the trial will do a normal week, so they’ll train Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and do normal times and loads,” he maintained.

“The guys that are playing, we’re going to de-load them so they get the Monday off and we’re just preparing them like we would for any other game.

“It’s just to get the guys in the right frame of mind and show the new guys how we approach the game situation.

“After Monday off, players come in Tuesday and do a light captains run just to tie everything together.

“They travel to Melbourne Tuesday afternoon and we’ll have a bit of recovery when we get down there before playing, so we’re right into game mode at the moment.

“The 12 or 13 that won’t be going down, we’ve really got to think of them as well, so they’ll be in for a normal week and unfortunately for the staff, a long week for them.”