It doesn't take Dom Young much to stand out.
The flowing dreadlocks, the 107kg, almost two metre tall frame - the 20-year-old Englishman is easy to pick in a crowd.
But it's not his looks that have Knights coach Adam O'Brien and the club's new head of high performance Hayden Knowles glowing in their praise of him over the first three weeks of pre-season training.
Young has stood out because of fitness, athleticism and effort and a real hunger to take his game to another level in 2022 following a highly promising debut season.
An example of that was his 1.2km time-trial a few weeks back which was a staggering 10 seconds faster than his time over the same distance 12 months ago.
"It's like we've now got his twin brother at training," O'Brien told the Newcastle Herald last week when asked about Young's progression since this time last year. "He's been flying and is a completely different player to when he first arrived at the club 12 months ago."
From what he has seen already from the towering outside back on the training paddock, Knowles believes he will rival the quickest players in the NRL next season.
For his part, Young is happy his bosses are happy.
"I've come back to training in good shape after looking after myself during our break," he said. "The last 12 months was character-building. Coming out here [from England] this time last year and not knowing what to expect. It was a shock to the system but the whole experience has made me a lot more confident now.
"I've always backed my ability which is why I came out to the Knights in the first place but I suppose I proved to myself that I could do it. Now it's about building on what I did last season. I'm sure I can do that."
After making a surprise round three debut last season against the Wests Tigers in the centres, Young went on to play a further five top grade games straight from round 14 on the wing before losing his place in the side following a couple of costly mistakes in a round 19 loss to the Sydney Roosters.
He admits he was mentally and physically fatigued by the end of it with lapses in concentration playing a part in his handling errors.
"I played five games there in a row and backing up was pretty tough towards the end," he said. "That part of it is going to be something I will be a lot better equipped to handle next season."
With Dane Gagai returning to the club and set to partner Bradman Best in the centres, Young will be fighting it out with the more experienced Hymel Hunt and Enari Tuala for a wing spot when the premiership kicks off in March.
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