Hickmans heaps praise as Knights get up to speed

 HIGH performance manager Jeremy Hickmans said the Knights were better prepared and in better condition than this stage last season.

The Knights officially kicked off preseason preparations at Hunter Sports Centre yesterday at a closed training session.

New arrivals Beau Scott, Jeremy Smith and David Fa’alogo were joined by captain Kurt Gidley, who is nearing full fitness after a shoulder operation cut his 2012 campaign short.

Former NSW Origin winger Anthony Quinn, who is trialling for a contract, attended his first session since leaving the club for the Melbourne Storm in 2006.

‘‘Training went pretty good, everyone is happy to be back,’’ Hickmans said. 

‘‘We are ahead of where we were this time last year. They have looked after themselves pretty well over the off-season.’’

The focus of yesterday’s session was speed.

‘‘They didn’t come back worried, they knew what to expect,’’ he said. ‘‘Today was a purely physical session. We’ll use the next few weeks to get the soreness out before Wayne gets back and we get a bit more specific.’’

Hickmans overhauled the Knights preseason program when he arrived as part of master coach Wayne Bennett’s support staff last season.

‘‘We’ll treat this preseason similar to last, but we’ll aim to get a bit more weight on the guys, get them a bit bigger before we move onto conditioning,’’ he said

Scott worked with the rehabilitation group yesterday and Hickmans, who will oversee preparations until Bennett returns in the next fortnight,  said the new players had fitted in well. Rodney Mason (knee), Toka Likiliki (ankle), and older brother Siuatonga Likiliki (knee) were also on restricted duties.

AAP reports:   Retired dual international Mat Rogers will have to prove himself as a coach quickly after being charged with developing Gold Coast’s group of young halves.

Rogers was named as the Titans’ backs coach by the NRL club  yesterday, giving him the task of finding the on-field replacement for departed captain Scott Prince.

It means Rogers will have to groom players such as Jordan Rankin, Aidan Sezer, Albert Kelly and Beau Henry into NRL-ready players  after  Prince’s controversial departure to Brisbane last month.

But the 36-year-old says the challenge of moulding the Titans’ next generation was part of the attraction of taking on the position.

‘‘That’s the exciting part of it. It’s not about walking in here and everything’s laid out,’’ Rogers said. ‘‘I would hate coming in here and working with guys that don’t need me to be here. The idea is to come here, make an impact and make a difference.’’

Titans’ head coach John Cartwright admits he’s thrown his former player a big task but he is also confident both Rogers and the players can make it a success.

Cartwright pointed to Canterbury’s 2012 campaign under unheralded halves pairing Kris Keating and Josh Reynolds as evidence you don’t have to boast established players at halfback and five-eighth to do well.  AAP 

BACK AT HOME: Former Knight and Melbourne Storm winger Anthony Quinn trained with the Knights yesterday.

BACK AT HOME: Former Knight and Melbourne Storm winger Anthony Quinn trained with the Knights yesterday.


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