Emerging Knights star Brodie Jones has dropped a bit of weight over summer to help build his versatility, while also hoping his time out in the centres is behind him.
The back-rower quickly became a fan favourite in the Hunter this year after some unexpectedly excellent form covering injuries out in the centres in what was a breakout season for the 23-year-old.
While a couple of tries and some big defensive plays out wide helped endear him to the Newcastle faithful, Jones had no hesitation in declaring himself little more than a stop-gap option at an off-season media call on Thursday.
"It was a bit of a strange year but I loved it, a bit of a breakout year as well," Jones smiled.
"I still find myself thinking about it now and little things that happened, there's still things I reflect on and never really think about until now. I've played a little bit at centre now.
"Ideally, coming into the year for me, I want to push my case for as many minutes as I can. Keep the versatility because it's important to have that versatility. I've trimmed down a bit, lost a few kilos just in case I do get thrown out in the centres again."
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He stressed that was not where he saw himself long-term, however.
"I much rather the forwards, I like tackling, I like defending, I find joy out of that in a game," he added.
"I'm not too experienced with centre. It's a lot different to what I'm used to. If it happens again it happens but ideally I want to be in the middle tackling people."
Newcastle's week one finals loss the Eels was Jones's finals debut, as well as the second straight year of a first-week finals exit for the Knights. While becoming a regular fixture of the top eight is a plus, the squad is determined to make their next finals appearance last longer, according to Jones.
"It was a disappointing finish but we can take a lot of good out of [the season]," he said.
"We wanted more and to bow out week one, that's two years in a row now so coming into the 2022 season, that's going to be the fire in the belly for a lot of the players, particularly the senior players.
"It means a lot to me, it was my first ever finals game and to lose like that, you want more. It leaves that fire in the belly. You have a taste for it and want a bit more."
Co-captain Jayden Brailey had a similar assessment of the club's consecutive early finals exits but from a personal perspective was relieved to put some consistent footy together.
"I know we finished eighth but I thought it was still a strong build from the year before," Brailey said.
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"Moving forward next year we're really aiming for higher standards and higher hopes for next year.
"It was really good for me to be able to come back from what was a pretty tough 2020 season. I played some really consistent football. I think I only missed two games last year and that was partly due to having a bit of a rest.
"I thought I played some decent footy. There's a couple of things I want to work on in this pre-season as well so I can be better for season 2022 but all in all I thought it was a pretty strong season."
He admitted the move into an official leadership role was both a shock and a huge honour.
"It was a little bit of a shock at first. It was a very pleasant surprise," he said.
"It was the biggest honour of my career so far and it was very special for me and my family to be able to lead this club out every week alongside Daniel (Saifiti) and KP (Kalyn Ponga) and all the co-captains.
"It was a very special year for me, I got to work on my leadership for the team and I learned a lot of lessons as well. Those lessons I'm hoping to build on and be better for next year."