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Barnett's back where he wants to be

Mitch Barnett is another one from the nib Newcastle Knights’ rehabilitation group, who has recently returned to full contact training.

The 23-year-old, who had shoulder surgery in the off-season, joined Daniel Saifiti and new recruit Tautau Moga in taking off the no-contact yellow jersey to resume training with the team.

“It’s good to get out of the yellow jersey and into full training because it’s been a long pre-season,” Barnett smiled.

“It’s great to be back and I’m just keen to get in, get right for the trials and start the season.”

The Knights forward will miss this week’s closed trial against the Melbourne Storm, staying home to continue training at Knights HQ.

“It should be 100 per cent by the time the Parramatta (Eels) trial comes around but it’s more or less trying to get it stable and doing the movements I haven’t done in a long time,” Barnett explained.

“It will take a little bit yet but I’m confident it’ll be right for the Parramatta trial.”

Barnett maintains getting back full fitness for the Eels trial was always his goal.

“We always aimed for the Parramatta trial at the start of the season, that was a rough gauge,” commented Barnett.

“There were times where I thought I wouldn’t make that, but I’m exactly where I want to be leading into these trials.

“Obviously, I’d love to be back 100 per cent right now but it’s great to finally see I’m not far away and I’m sure the other boys feel the same and we’re all ready to go.”

The 2017 Danny Buderus Medal winner has high hopes for another solid season in 2018 but does realise the competition for spots in the Knights 17 has increased with a host of new recruits.

“It’s good all the new boys have come; a lot of them have played together at the (Sydney) Roosters and have already got their combinations so they fit in really well,” he added.

“It’s healthy for the team to have that competition and we’ve all ripped in this pre-season, so it comes down to what (Nathan) Browny thinks the best team is Round 1.

“It’s then up to whoever doesn’t get picked to keep playing well in Reserve Grade and keep putting pressure on the boys who are playing first grade.

“All the boys are trying to prove a point each session, so it’s great to see and hopefully it’s a sign of bigger things to come in the future.”