The countdown is officially on.
It’s officially 2020, the Christmas break is over, and the nib Newcastle Knights have returned for their final run of pre-season training with the new campaign just 67 days away.
While others may have spent the Christmas period stuffing down ham and enjoying a hard-earned break, the playing group were continuing their preparation even though they weren’t officially on duty.
For players nursing injuries such as Mason Lino, Beau Fermor and Starford To’a, the break gave them the perfect opportunity to rest and reset while continuing their rehabilitation programs.
In good news for Knights fans, all three are showing promising signs upon their return to training.
Recovery Report: Post Christmas health check
Recovering from a finger injury suffered in a training collision, To’a is on track to be available for the Knights trial against the Dragons in February.
“He’s (To’a) still got a wire in his finger that won’t be released for a couple of weeks yet,” Head of Physical Performance Balin Cupples said.
“In saying that, he’s been able to do all his running and conditioning and he had a really strong Christmas break.
“We’ll make sure Star, over the next couple of weeks, gets back out with the coaches.”
After suffering a shoulder injury in the final round of 2019, Lino was originally in doubt for a return by round one of 2020.
However, after a strong start to the pre-season, he is now shaping up to be fit and ready for the trials.
“Mace is building through his very early stage contact protocols,” Cupples said.
“He’s still working really hard off-feet con-wise and in the gym to make sure in the next two-to-three weeks, when he does return to more and more skill training, and then early-February full training, that he’s ready to go from a physical point-of-view.”
Saulo: Training intensity and 2020 goals
Fermor’s long road back from an ACL injury is continuing to progress, with Cupples impressed with the young forwards’ recovery.
“He’s building into his lateral and change-of-direction work on-field which is another milestone,” he said.
“He’s done plenty of work over the Christmas break and continues to work really hard both gym-wise and off-feet con-wise to make sure he’s getting closer and closer.
“Footy and physically, he’s making targets.”
Pearce: Camp, return and expectations
Injured players and expected return dates:
Starford To'a (Finger - Pre-Season)
Mason Lino (Shoulder - Pre-Season)
Beau Fermor (Knee - Early-Mid season)