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MITCH, KALYN & STRETCHER BEDS

I started my Newcastle career in the first week of December. The coaches eased me into the work for the first week or so but then it got serious.

 

We had a mini army camp set up at MacDonald Jones Stadium. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. The physical stuff was brutal but the boys got through it. At one point, we had to carry around 100-plus kilo stretcher beds all day. It was torture but I actually enjoyed it.

 

All of it brought the squad closer together. We learned heaps about each other. It feels as though I have started first grade all over again here at the Knights. I need to put on a few kilos before the season begins – training has been that tough – but I’ll be more than ready to start the season.

 

 

In terms of our playing group, the respect the players have for Pearcey as our captain is awesome. The people of Newcastle love him, too.

 

Watch him train and it’s easy to see why he’s one of the best halfbacks in the game – his vision, the way he sees the game, the way he makes everyone around him better. He’s also a great leader. I love the way he interacts with every squad member – and he has the fire burning to win a comp up here. I’m excited to be playing alongside him.

 

Everyone keeps asking about Kalyn PongaWhat’s he like? How he’s going to go in his new position at six? I’m as impressed with Kalyn as I’ve ever been about a young player on the rise. He has it all. His ball execution, the way he moves, that crazy sidestep. He’s a natural footy player with a lot still to learn. It’s a bit scary.

 

At five-eighth, Kalyn’s obviously getting a lot more ball than he did at fullback, which can only be a good thing. He has been working hard on his defence and doing well. He hasn’t tackled me yet but he has decked a few of our backrowers without any problems.

 

Overall we’ve got a really strong roster heading into 2019 and, like the fans, I am confident we are heading for a successful period. Nearly all of these young blokes have been thrown in at the deep end over the past couple of years and are better and more experienced footballers for it.

 

Someone asked me the other day if I’d been taking on a father-figure-style role at the club this season. That caught me off-guard a bit! I might’ve played a bit of rep footy but, at the same time, I’m still only 25 and have plenty more to learn about the game.

 

That’s what I’m really looking forward to this season – growing as a player and helping my team. And to do it in a fiercely proud footy town like Newcastle? I can’t think of many things better than that.

 

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