STEVE Ugarkovic hustled and bustled, his passes crisp, movement slick.
Bernie Ibini slotted goals and burned past defenders, the ball seemingly glued to his foot.
The star Jets duo went public on the weekend about their desire to leave the club in the wake of the exit by coach Carl Robinson.
That request was duly refused by the club - with the backing of the players union - and both players were on deck for the first field session of the pre-season at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility on Tuesday.
But there were no signs of discontent, no kicking stones. All business.
Jets utility Jason Hoffman didn't expect anything less.
"They are top professionals," said Hoffman, a veteran of 224 A-League games - 144 of those for Newcastle. "They have played the game a long time and understand they have a duty to the Newcastle Jets. As far as the playing group is concerned, they are one of us until we hear otherwise. Looking at the way they performed in the past two days, they are one of us. We are looking forward to building into pre-season with those two, who are key players within our group."
Ugarkovic, an industrious midfielder, has been one of the Jets' best for the past four seasons.
Ibini was short of football when he arrived in Newcastle as a free agent in February and, once fully fit, showed his potential post the COVID-19 break.
Both are at crucial junctures in their careers.
Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna said the only way he would entertain a release for either was if an overseas club made an offer.
A strong start to the A-League season, which kicks off on December 27, could open opportunities when the transfer windows open in Europe and Asia in January.
All squad players, bar Nikolai Topor-Stanley who had a university exam, trained on Tuesday.
Ramy Majjarine, on loan from Melbourne City, was sharp and trialists Jai Seldon (Canberra) and Takeru Okada (Wollongong) didn't look out of place in an up-tempo, 90-minute session.
"Day one [on the pitch] is always exciting," Hoffman said. "Morale is excellent. We have always been really unique dressing room here in Newcastle. As soon as you rock up to training on day one, everyone makes you feel welcome. Everyone will buy into what we are trying to achieve. Last season, we made huge inroads in the way we play.
"We believe we can build on that. That started in the off-season when we were given our programs to stay fit. Everyone who has turned up to training understands they are here to give 110 per cent."
While you're with us, did you know the Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here
IN THE NEWS:
- 23 years in jail for 'sadistic' murder of Wade Still
- Jets urged to show faith in coach with local connections
- Crash, flooding closes roads across Newcastle and Port Stephens
- Staff concerned Kurri Kurri Hospital rehabilitation unit will close, despite assurances from health district
- Topspin tennis coach Richard Nicholls 'devastated' at losing District Park lease
- Lake Macquarie City Council reveals new data measure for Fernleigh Track between Adamstown and Belmont