Mad Dog to stay a Knight for 2010... and beyond

His future has been clouded but veteran centre Adam MacDougall is set to remain a Knight in 2010 – and possibly beyond – after re-entering contract negotiations with the club and new coach Rick Stone.<br><br>In a huge boost for the Knights ahead of Monday’s must-win game against Canberra, MacDougall has all but given the green light to another season in the NRL as he looks to help them return to the glory days of 1997 and 2001.<br><br>“With the change of coach I had to make sure that Rick Stone wanted me to play again – there is no point playing if the coach doesn’t want you to play – but he is more than keen,” MacDougall told NRL.com today.<br><br>“I still have to speak to other parties to make sure I’m making the right decision but at this stage I’m more than keen to play again.<br><br>“I think my form warrants another season and the body is holding up pretty well.”<br><br>MacDougall nearly didn’t make it onto the field this season, with Newcastle waiting until the last minute to offer the former NSW and Australian star a new contract.<br><br>But the 34-year-old said he had never put a time frame on his retirement and could even stay on beyond 2010 should his body allow.<br><br>“This game can be cruel and kind so I try not to get ahead of myself – you never know what the future holds for you in rugby league,” he said.<br><br>“I’ll try to focus on the year ahead of me and then I’ll worry about what happens after that later.<br><br>“I haven’t decided what I’m going to do next week let alone the next couple of years.<br><br>“I’ve had one or two very bad injuries in my career but I suppose physically they might have done me a favour – I haven’t had the same wear and tear that a lot of blokes my age have.<br><br>“As I said, physically I feel really good and whilst I feel good physically and mentally I’ll keep playing.”<br><br>MacDougall admitted he had been frustrated by Newcastle’s struggles in recent years but said he has rediscovered his passion amid the club’s impressive resurgence this season.<br><br>“It’s been a strange journey for me coming back,” he said. <br><br>“I initially came back with high expectations.<br><br>“The year before I came back the Knights just missed out on the grand final by one game and I was pretty excited.<br><br>“I didn’t expect to come back to a Knights side that was rebuilding.<br><br>“At the time we had Andrew Johns, Danny Buderus and Steve Simpson so I was expecting to play a lot more finals football than I have.<br><br>“If I had stayed at Souths I would have been in a rebuilding phase with them which was something I didn’t really want to be a part of again.<br><br>“I wanted to be part of a winning team and unfortunately it hasn’t worked out that way but it is definitely good to see that we’re on the right track to getting the club back to where it was when I was first here.”<br><br>MacDougall’s experience will be crucial to the Knights as they push for a return to finals football over the coming weeks.<br><br>A late-season collapse that coincided with the announcement that former coach Brian Smith would join Sydney Roosters in 2010 appeared to have ended their top eight hopes but they have won back-to-back games since Stone took over and can cement a finals spot with victory over Canberra this Monday.<br><br>“Like most sides I think we’ve gone through a flat spot but I think we’ve come out of it now,” MacDougall said.<br><br>“The Brian Smith stuff was probably a bit of a distraction for the boys but really I think it was just the timing of our form slump.<br><br>“A couple of losses always affect your confidence and when you’re not winning it’s easy to make excuses.<br><br>“I guess the club settling on Rick probably put a lot of the young guys’ minds at ease and let them focus on footy again.<br><br>“I voiced my opinion quite publicly that I didn’t think the coaching saga was to blame but in hindsight maybe I’ve been proven wrong because results have said otherwise.<br><br>“The important thing is that we’ve turned the corner and thing are looking up.”<br>