2018 recruit Mitchell Pearce admits the trial match against the Parramatta Eels at Maitland on Saturday will be another good test for the developing squad.
“We showed good early signs in the Melbourne trial match,” Pearce said.
“This weekend there are no points to gain, but it’s a big game for us with the rebuilding phase and the new players, so it will be a good test going into Round 1.
“We’re preparing as if it’s Round 1 so we can be ready to roll.”
The talented halfback said he can see the squad continuing to improve every day as the pre-season comes to an end.
“There’s been a lot of players and combinations to develop and a lot of stuff to learn but we’ve improved every day and the boys are starting to gel slowly,” Pearce added.
“The sky is the limit; it is a bit unknown with a new group of players, but our goals have been about getting our standards right so we can give ourselves a shot every week.”
Pearce had wraps on a number of younger players, who he’s been impressed with during his time at the Club.
“There’s plenty of talent in the squad... Fitzy (Lachlan Fitzgibbon) has been really impressive on his edge in defence, and with the ball he can run as good as line as anyone,” explained Pearce.
“He’s going to have a really big year if he plays to his best and Kalyn Ponga has been really good.”
The halfback is quietly confident this year will be a good year for the red and blues.
“I’m really confident we can creep our way up the ladder and do well,” he said.
“That’s what has motivated me and that’s why I came to Newcastle and I’m ready for that challenge.
“Browny (Nathan Brown) has changed a few things in my game, we play a bit more of an ad lib style so that’s exciting for me as a half... opening up the creativity and a more hands-on leadership role here.”
And there’s no doubt he has already settled into Newcastle life.
“I’m loving it here in Newcastle and the town itself,” Pearce maintained.
“You don’t experience what rugby league means to the town until you get up here and live in the town and be part of it.
“It’s been the best move so far, I have loved it and you realise what you’re playing for here and we’re really working hard to be successful.
“There’s definitely something about the country air up here, the culture of this Club is built on a different foundation to what a Sydney club is and since I’ve been here I’ve really experienced that, it’s a family feel.”