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In the News: O'Brien phone call, hybrid defence and Crossland's dream

There’s been no shortage of interest in our boys this week.

The nib Newcastle Knights attracted plenty of media attention and we’ve pulled together some of it in case you missed it.

Pearce: 'I can't speak highly enough of O'Brien'

The AOB phone call which saved forward’s Knights career

It was one of the biggest Knights-based rumours floating around the tabloids late last year.

Prop forward Herman Ese’ese was supposedly on the move, despite having a year to run on his contract.

Ese’ese is now gearing up for a massive 2020 season in red and blue, and in a wide-ranging interview with The Newcastle Herald’s Barry Toohey, admitted a phone call from Adam O’Brien was all it took to clear his mind.

"My head was all over the place because I was just thinking 'what am I going to do next season?' I really wanted to stay and even though I was contracted this year, it didn't look good,” Ese’ese said.

"So, the call came at just the right time."

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Gardner: 'This is a really important day for us'

Crossland’s dream Rugby League apprenticeship

A tick over a year ago, Phoenix Crossland was 18 years old and yet to do a fulltime pre-season.

Now, he’s firming as one of the favourites to take the prized No.6 jersey in round one, alongside one of his boy-hood heroes in Mitchell Pearce.

In an in-depth one on one with Fox Sports scribe Simon Brunsdon, Crossland also admitted he’s been taking lessons off Allan Bell, the man credited with mentoring the Eighth Immortal, Andrew Johns.

“Belly likes to say he introduced Andrew Johns to NRL and he taught him everything he knows. Talking to blokes who have helped an Immortal play the game, that’s pretty awesome,” Crossland said.

“Not just footy stuff - he sends clips to me sometimes of Cooper Cronk and some of the greats - but it’s more the mental side of the game which is really good.

“Even Junior (Pearce) says I’m doing well at such a young age to even be aware of how mentally fit you can be as well as physically fit.

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Brailey: Settling in, Pearce combo and pressure

Klemmer reveals hybrid defensive system

There’s a reason they’ve won the past three titles.

The Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm defensive systems are renowned around the league, and they’re systems Adam O’Brien knows like the back of his hand.

According to prop David Klemmer in a piece penned by Daily Telegraph journalist James Phelps, the Knights will be following this defensive blueprint in an effort to rise up the ladder this year.

“He (O’Brien) has been around Melbourne and the Roosters,’’ Klemmer said.

“He knows their systems and what it takes to be both a good team and to a good player. He has been getting stuck into me personally and the group to be better at defence, and to be better as a middle.

“We let in way too many tries last year, especially at the back end, so has been really hard on us as a group when it comes to defence. A good defensive side always wins the comp and we need to be better.’’

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