Senior Knight duo excited by influx of rookies
Veteran Newcastle duo Kade Snowden and Jeremy Smith have expressed their excitement over the young playing contingent plying their trade at Knights' pre-season training.
Snowden and Smith, who only returned to training this week after completing their ASADA bans for their part in Cronulla's 2011 supplements program, said there was a certain buzz that comes with having the rookie players in the squad.
The likes of Knights' 2014 Holden Cup minor premiership-winning players Jaelen Feeney, Danny Levi, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Luke Yates, Tuiala Togiatasi and James Taylor, as well as NSW Cup quartet Nathan Ross, Tyler Randell, Chad Redman and Pat Mata'utia, are currently training with the first-grade squad.
On top of that, 21-year-old hooker Adam Clydsdale is set to be given a greater responsibility in the team in the lead-up to the upcoming season, with Kangaroos representative Sione Mata'utia and Jake Mamo set to make their own impacts.
For Snowden, it is a matter of leading by example and helping the rookies along the way.
"I think there is a lot of [responsibility] for all the older players here. There is only a few of us here now and everyone else is pretty young," Snowden said.
"For me... and all the other experienced boys, our roles never change. We have to lead by a good example and show the younger fellas where to go.
"The young squad has been pretty enthusiastic and they'll probably train the house down.
"They'll try and beat us but that's just what young fellas do."
Smith had his first proper conditioning session with the team on Thursday, with a nagging knee complaint keeping him from Newcastle's hills session earlier in the week, and the experienced 34-year-old lock said there was an "upbeat" vibe around the place.
"I've been around for a couple of days now and they're all pretty upbeat about what has been going on with the coaching staff and all that," Smith said.
"I think [the younger blokes] get quite a buzz out of it when they come up and train with us first-graders. They push you a bit harder and you have to sort them out here and there but all-in-all I think they have enjoyed it."
With plenty of young Knights given the keys to their own destiny this pre-season – with the opportunity for a couple of them to make their NRL debuts in 2015 – but both Smith and Snowden say youth can work in Newcastle's favour.
"It is a new season now so it all starts again... with the way we're going, we are training well, so I can't see why we can't go well," Smith said.
The unknown qualities surrounding their rookie teammates are enough for Snowden to believe they can catch out opposition teams in 2015.
"We won our last eight of 11 games [to end the season]," Snowden said. "With the younger fellas coming up no-one knows how we will go but I think we will be up there."