Former Newcastle prop Jesse Royal is quitting a job in the mines to join the New Zealand Warriors after signing a two-year contract with the NRL club.

The 28-year-old New Zealander might have thought his NRL days were over when he ended a 29-game first-grade career with the Knights at the end of last season.

He was working in the coalmines in Newcastle and eyeing a campaign with local club Kurri Kurri this year but the 1.93m, 107kg front rower is now in line to extend his top-grade career with his third NRL club.

"With Ruben (Wiki) finishing up last year, we obviously lost so much experience in the front row," Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah explained.

"We've got some really talented young players coming through like Russell Packer, Leeson Ah Mau and Mataupu Poching but we were lacking some depth in terms of more seasoned players.

"We were looking for someone to fill the gap left by Ruben and work alongside Steve (Price), Sam (Rapira) and Evarn (Tuimavave).

"Another factor in signing Jesse now is Evarn's neck injury which will keep him on the sideline for the start of the season."

A former New Zealand A representative, Royal was a chef in the New Zealand Army when he resigned in 2003 to take up a contract with the Penrith Panthers.

He spent the 2004 season playing for Penrith's feeder club the St Mary's Cougars in the New South Wales Premier League before signing with Newcastle for the 2005 season.

He made his NRL debut against Cronulla in 2007, playing 10 games that year and going on to appear 19 times last year, mostly as a starting prop.

The Warriors' opening NRL match this season is against Parramatta in Auckland on March 14.