Selfless Knights inspire next generation
They both embody the spirit on which the Newcastle Knights were built and teammate Robbie Rochow says the team-first philosophy of Beau Scott and Jeremy Smith is rubbing off on the club's young forwards.
Prior to their Round 1 win over the Warriors, Newcastle coach Rick Stone brought in members of Newcastle's inaugural team of 1988 to show the current generation what it means to earn the right to call yourself a Knight.
That credo of being the player that other players want to play with has been passed down for the past 25-plus years but perhaps is no better encapsulated than by the physically confronting international back-rowers who have helped lead the club to a three-game winning streak to start the season.
Their individual stats regularly make for only average reading but with a try apiece and one missed tackle between them against the Titans on Sunday, their teammates wouldn't swap them for any other forward in the competition.
"We've got good leaders in Beau Scott and Jeremy Smith who play their guts out every week and they're going to do everything right by the team," Rochow told NRL.com.
"They're not playing for stats, they're playing for the team and that's what we need. It brings everyone along with them. Korbin Sims, me, Jack Stockwell, the younger players want to play with them. They lead for us and we just want to follow them.
"You've got to pinch yourself sometimes to play with that calibre of forwards. No matter what the situation is and what way the game's going they're putting in the same effort. It's great to have them in our team."
Although they finished out of the finals in 2014 the Knights won eight of their last 11 games last season as they put the drama surrounding Alex McKinnon's injury, Nathan Tinkler's club ownership and coach Wayne Bennett's decision to leave behind them.
It helped to unite a playing group that remains largely unchanged in 2015 and which captain Kurt Gidley believes is growing with confidence with each and every win.
"We've got a couple of new fellas in 'Stocky' (Jack Stockwell) who is going great and we've got Tariq [Sims] to come back but we've got the same group of guys from the back-end of last year when we were playing well," Gidley said.
"Last year was a tough year but when all the distractions and things were aside and finished with we were playing our best footy.
"We're not playing our best footy at the moment but we've never given up in any game, and that's pretty important."
Reconnecting with the club's proud history was one of the key tenets when Rick Stone was reinstalled as Knights coach following Bennett's departure and he said he is pleased with how the players have responded in the opening three weeks of the season.
"We've worked on setting some standards for ourselves, we've engaged with the community a little bit and having some standards that we're proud of," said Stone. "The last couple of weeks I think we're pretty proud of our resilience and toughness, they've been a couple of things we set out to have a crack at and maybe drawn on a bit of history with the Knights.
"The club was built on that with Allan McMahon and we tried to go back to the future a little bit and take some of the traits out of those teams from early on."
Now in his fourth year at the Knights, Rochow believes that the bond that has been built in the forward pack particularly is helping them to develop a key trait that can't be coached: character.
"We've played together for a few years now and there's not too many new recruits bar Jack Stockwell who played really well [against Gold Coast]," said Rochow.
"It's just a matter of playing together and playing for the bloke beside you.
"At the end of the day you can teach game-plans and execution gets better as the season goes on but in terms of effort levels and playing for the bloke alongside you, it's not really something you can coach.
"The longer you can keep a forward pack together and the better mates they are the more you start to play for each other and you can see that in our forward pack at the moment."