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Fresh start at Knights entices Lillyman

Newcastle Knights recruit Jacob Lillyman has welcomed the chance to join a club with minimal expectation, following seasons of underachievement at the Warriors.

After nine years across the Tasman, the 33-year-old joined his new teammates for Newcastle's first day of pre-season training on Wednesday.

"I'm coming from a club where expectations were put on and we didn't too well with it," Lillyman told the media.

"I don't want to put any expectation on [the Knights], but see real improvement in the team."

The former Queensland prop admitted that apart from back-rower Aidan Guerra, he knew no one in the squad on a personal level, but welcomed that as part of the new challenge. 

"I've been over there (New Zealand) a long time and felt I needed a freshen up," Lillyman said.

"I've always liked Newcastle. I haven't spent much time here but it's away from Sydney and certainly a smaller town. 

"I've never heard anyone say a bad word about Newcastle. It ticked a lot of boxes.

"Usually at every club you know a few but it was different here [today]. I was surprised at the number of young guys here.

"I know there are the makings of a good young side and I'd love to be a part of bringing success to this footy town."

The North Queensland product was under no illusion he's been brought to the club to mentor their youth in the front row department.  

Lillyman's 250-game experience outweighs fellow forwards Daniel Saifiti (43 games), Jacob Saifiti (39 games), Josh King (27 games), Luke Yates (19 games) and Broncos recruit Herman Ese'ese (31 games) combined. 

"It comes with the territory, I've been in the game for a long time now and there are certainly a lot of things you pick up along the way," Lillyman said.

"You know what works and what doesn't and that's the big thing – helping the young forwards develop and become better players.

"That's part of my role and one of the reasons I was brought here."

The veteran leader is recovering from a torn bicep injury but in good news for Knights fans, revealed he is less than a fortnight away from full training and contact.

He took part in the squad's two-kilometre time trial on Wednesday with fellow injured teammates Daniel Saifiti and Mitchell Barnett (both shoulder).

"I haven't done a lot over the break after surgery so the lungs and legs felt it," Lillyman said.

"It won't hold me back for too long. It was a tough little session with testing. 

"Pre-seasons are never easy and this is going to be no different."

Former Roosters pair Connor Watson and Aidan Guerra are expected to join the Knights squad for training over the next fortnight. 


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