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Knights great's inspiring act for rookie

NZN 17/03/2017 Matt Encarnacion

There was nothing any Newcastle legend could've said to rookie forward Sam Stone in the dressing sheds last week that would've motivated him to try any harder.

As part of their 30th year anniversary celebrations, the Knights invited 17 of their most capped players for the NRL club's home-opener against Gold Coast.

"They all handed out a jersey and said good luck," Stone told AAP.

"But just looking them in the eyes and knowing what they've achieved and how much they've done for the club, it speaks more than any words they can say."

The son of former coach Rick Stone is one of a handful of local products in this year's squad, who have made a pact to reclaim the mantle as the toughest club in the competition.

Stone said new faces such as Jamie Buhrer had bought in, too.

"Not just the young boys, but the squad as a whole. We talk a lot about getting the club back to where it was. And when it was at its best, it was known as a very tough club," he said.

"That's our focus for getting the club back on track."

And while the likes of Paul Harragon, Danny Buderus and Andrew Johns were in the rooms last weekend, Stone said there was none tougher than the one who walked up to his locker.

Former fullback Mark Hughes played 161 games in the famous blue and red, but it is his ongoing battle with brain cancer that inspired Stone to his first career try against the Titans.

"It was a big day with the legends of the club handing out the jerseys and watching. We just wanted to play a tough brand of football for the old boys that are instilled into the club," he said.

"Mark Hughes gave me my jumper and he's the toughest of the lot with his illness. He's obviously done well to get to back to where he is. I have the utmost respect for him."

Despite weighing in at just 98 kilograms, Stone has impressed in short stints off the bench against the big men of the Warriors in round one, and then the Titans in game two.

But he has now set his sights on adding another seven kilograms to his frame as he attempts to keep his spot in the line-up, beginning from this week's clash against South Sydney.

"It's definitely a goal for me to develop a bit more. I'm sitting at 98 kilos now and I need to get to 105kg. It's going to be a long process but I'll keep working hard to get there," he said.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge against Souths. They're obviously the benchmarks, with Sam Burgess and the rest of their pack. I'd like to see what it's like. I'll definitely do my best."

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