Knights enforcer Mitch Barnett says his 2017 Player of the Year award guarantees him nothing next season after one of the biggest roster shake-ups in the club’s history.
Barnett is recovering after off-season shoulder surgery that has restricted his training in the pre-season and left him racing the clock to be ready for round one in March.
“I’m a little bit ahead of schedule so should be right to start the season if everything goes well between now and then,”Barnett said.
“Daniel Saifiti and I both had full shoulder reconstructions and have basically only been doing some running so far. Hopefully when we come back in the New Year we can ramp things up a bit and start doing a little bit of contact.”
Barnett injured his shoulder early last season but managed to rehab it to get him through until it popped back out again in the final game of the year against the Sharks.
“I knew I was always going to have to get something done at the end of the season but I aggravated it a lot more in the first tackle of our last game and I think there was a pretty big break in the front of the shoulder,” he said.
“Dan had his done a week before me and we are working towards getting ready for the trials.
“We are doing everything we can from the rehab side of things and the physios and strength and conditioning staff are doing everything they can and giving us all the programs to get us back so it’s all been going to plan.”
A testament to Barnett’s toughness and injury management was the fact he still managed to take out the club’s Player of the Year award .
But with an influx of new players joining the roster and plenty of competition for spots, particularly among the forwards, Barnett says he can’t afford to take anything for granted.
The Knights have added the likes of Jacob Lillyman, Herman Ese’ese, Chris Heighington and Aidan Guerra to their pack roster with all four players likely to command positions in the club’s top 17.
“There is a lot of competition right across the park which is something we didn’t have last season,”he said.
“I haven’t been involved in any of the skills sessions but looking at everyone train, everything seems a lot quicker and sharper.
“That’s another reason why I am eager to get back there and get into the thick of things and really try and improve on last season and get a spot in that 17.
“Nothing is handed to you in rugby league but as long as I can get my shoulder right, I’m hoping with all the hard work I’ve put in, everything will fall into place.”
There is a lot of competition right across the park which is something we didn’t have last season.Mitch Barnett