Connor Watson returned to training as one of the fittest in the nib Newcastle Knights squad.
While the performance staff are expecting plenty from the NRL squad, Watson has stood out in the testing and it’s something he credits to the work he did over his break.
In fact, the utility used his time-off as an opportunity to get in some specialty coaching.
Former Knights teammate Chris Heighington has moved into Sports Performance coaching since retiring from the NRL at the end of 2018.
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He was one of three fitness experts Watson linked up with before returning to the Knights in early November.
“(I’m) coming into a big year for myself,” Watson said.
“I’m off-contract now, so obviously there’s a big emphasis on me playing some good football this year.
“I did a bit in the off-season, I worked with a few guys; (Speed and agility coach) Rodger Fabri down in Sydney, and then did a bit of stuff with Pat Lane. Did a bit of stuff with Chris Heigno, which was really good, good to be working with Dad again.”
Aside from coming off contract at the end of 2020, the Knights have a new coaching staff to impress.
The contract and change in boss has only added to the motivation.
Thanks to his time in Melbourne, new coach Adam O’Brien has established a reputation as a hard worker.
He’s also quite hands on.
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According to 23-year-old Watson, the changes across the board have resulted in a greater intensity on the field.
“There’s definitely a lot more coaches, I think they’ve added maybe three or four more actual staff out there on the field,” Watson explained.
“So, it means there’s someone always watching, so you can’t really get away with anything out there.
“The one thing that’s changed a bit has been how fast they (training sessions) are, there’s not as many breaks and it's sort of been really tough for us players of adapt to that and go on and train under the fatigue."