Stone calls on AFL veteran Dixon
Newcastle coach Rick Stone has called in AFL veteran Ben Dixon to help the Knights halves fine tune their kicking games.
The 203-game Hawthorn player joined Knights training when the club returned from their Christmas break on Monday.
His recruitment, aimed at helping the Knights outside backs with their catching as well as boosting the kicking accuracy of the halves, followed a chance meeting with Stone at Jack Newton's recent Celebrity Classic golf tournament.
Dixon isn't the first AFL player to sign on with an NRL club lately, following the Storm's appointment of premiership-winning Collingwood captain Nick Maxwell as the club's leadership development coach late last year.
"I think we can borrow things from a lot of sports to be honest, and we can definitely borrow a few things from the AFL," Stone said.
"Some of their focuses are a little bit more acute, particularly around the kicking and the marking, so I thought surely we could take some expertise out of those particular areas.
"[Dixon] has been watching the game pretty closely over the past couple of years. He obviously has some experience with the Hawks and he did the Foxtel AFL show 'The Recruit' as well."
Stone said he was happy with how his players warmed to Dixon, giving Stone the confidence to get the 37-year-old to hold future sessions.
"[Dixon's] schedule is pretty tight because he's down in Melbourne but if we can get him up here a couple of times that would be good," Stone said.
"He seems to have a pretty good personality and the boys warmed to him pretty quickly… and I think they took some pretty good pointers from it."
Meanwhile, Newcastle's Four Nations representatives Beau Scott, Joey Leilua, Sione Mata'utia and David Fa'alogo all returned to training on Monday.
Scott in particular was excited for the pre-season and the routine that came with it, saying he took great confidence in the Knights' finish to their NRL season where they won eight of the last 11 games.
"It was a tough year for the club. Obviously we had a fair few setbacks on and off the field and I guess that was sort of reflected in the results that we achieved, so compared to the year before it was disappointing but all we can do now is look forward to the season ahead," Scott said.
"We ended the year quite strongly I thought and I guess the performances at home really showed what we could do as a football team."
Scott also said that his body was feeling fresh after a hamstring rubbed him out of Australia's final two Tests of the Four Nations.
The 30-year-old said his extended break allowed him to have a rest both mentally and physically, and his return to training also meant he was able to meet several of his new teammates for the first time.
"It's exciting times at the club to see I suppose what [the new faces] have to bring to the club. Obviously there are a few of them and I don't know what they can do yet so I look forward to getting to know them and playing alongside them," Scott said.
"Tariq Sims is down here now, and I've obviously played with him a few times in the City v Country game so I'm looking forward to playing with him when he gets back on the paddock."