Finnigan hails Thunder attitude.

Head coach Simon Finnigan is happy with the attitude shown by his Newcastle Thunder charges so far this pre-season, as the hard work begins for the 2020 rugby league season.

Thunder have returned to action in November as they prepare for a pair of pre-season friendlies in January and the start of the new league campaign in mid-February, with Finnigan having a clear plan in mind of what he wants to achieve.

“I just want our group to be ready in what we perceive as important as a group and as individuals. There are certain things we need to be better at next year and pre-season always gives you the best opportunity to do that because you have got the chance to train without the fatigue of games and you can work on things in a little bit more detail.

“I like that everyone is here; I like how hungry they are, and I like the mindset of some of the older boys who have come back in. They are ready and they have the look about them that they want to come in and train hard so that is important for me.

“The players always want to put in, and they have always trained hard which makes my job and Denis’ a hell of a lot easier because we’re not trying to make them do something that they don’t want to do.

“We’ll be ready come January time for friendlies and when the season starts in February, but there is a lot of work to get done before that.”

With a host of new faces reporting for the first sessions of the winter, the squad has undergone somewhat of an overhaul ahead of Betts and Finnigan’s first full campaign with the former Ireland international pleased with who he is working with.

Of particular note is the increasing number of local voices within the changing room, with an additional four North Eastern lads graduating from the academy and Finnigan insistent that their place has been earned on merit rather than tokenism.

He said: “I’m very happy with the squad I’ve got and it is more than capable of doing what we need to do when we get to that point. We lost a couple of people, but that’s rugby and it is not something that we can’t fix.

“With the new local boys, they have stepped up because they are good enough and a lot credit needs to go to people like Michael Heap for the work that has been done with these players up to now.

“It needs to be clear that they aren’t brought up just because they are local lads, it doesn’t work like that because they will get to first team and it will end. It is not a charity case and its now down to us as first team coaches to get them pushing for first team positions.

“We’ll give them the tools and the training to be in the right shape but they have to make sacrifices themselves. They’ve got to take the shirt of someone ahead of them which I suspect some of them will do and I hope they do and put pressure on some of the other boys who have got that shirt.

“If we keep doing that and bringing them through, then the 16ss and 18s who are watching will see the Sam Luckleys, playing every week, getting new contracts, playing international rugby and seeing that there is a pathway.

“Its exciting because you see the young lads at training that are all or nothing and that enthusiasm spreads in the group and I like that.”