HE is the new kid on the block but Newcastle Knights heavyweight Zane Tetevano subscribes to an old-school mentality.
As he prepares for his third season of NRL football, the 22-year-old considers himself very much one of the junior members of Newcastle’s forward rotation.
And with each training session he strives to prove his worth to coach Wayne Bennett and the veteran teammates who have been there, won that, in some cases while he was still in primary school.
‘‘Just the way you train, the way you apply yourself to things – I think once you start doing that, that’s how you earn respect,’’ he said. ‘‘You run hard, tackle hard, and you earn their respect. That’s how you become real good mates with them as well.’’
Tetevano has to pinch himself when he looks around at training and sees proven hard men like Jeremy Smith, David Fa’alogo and Beau Scott doing the hard yards alongside him.
But if much of the media focus has surrounded Newcastle’s pack of evergreen enforcers, Tetevano hopes there will still be a place for an up-and-comer or two.
They say you can’t put an old head on young shoulders, but by the same token you can’t put a price on young legs.
Bennett will no doubt be looking for the perfect balance of youth and experience, and with 18 NRL games under his belt Tetevano feels ready to cast aside the L-plates.
‘‘I think I’ll bring a lot of confidence this year,’’ he said. ‘‘I want to build on what I did last year.
‘‘The older boys just give me a lot of advice. It makes me feel a lot more confident, having guys here like Jeremy Smith and David Fa’alogo.’’
‘‘I’m just a young player trying to learn from them. They just tell me what to do and I try to learn from them.’’
Off contract at season’s end, the 109-kilogram prop from Tokoroa, on New Zealand’s North Island, has no desire to leave the team he joined in 2008 after impressing during a schoolboy match against Hunter Sports High.
‘‘I love Newcastle,’’ he said. ‘‘I wouldn’t want to change to any other club.
‘‘I like it here. It’s been home since I moved here and I don’t want to go anywhere else.’’
After playing 15 games last year, most towards the end of the season, Tetevano said he realised there would be plenty of competition for jobs in the engine room.
‘‘I just turn up with the right frame of mind and give it 110per cent – whether I’m in rehab, doing skills, whatever,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s a challenge for me to make the squad this year.
‘‘I’ve just got to make the trials, put my best foot forward and see what happens.’’