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Ask tough Newcastle front-rower Zane Tetevano about his stop-start time in first-grade last year and he gives a disgruntled response.

In and out of the top side and restricted to just eight games in 2013, the maturing 23-year-old has overcome a pre-season hand injury to force his way into the Knights' starting side over the past fortnight.

With Willie Mason facing time on the shelf with a two-game suspension and Kade Snowden missing last weekend's game against the Broncos with concussion, Knights supercoach Wayne Bennett has preferred to throw Tetevano in the deep end in recent weeks.

"I think it has taken me a couple of years to finally get [Bennett's] trust and get a chance in the starting squad so I just have to go out there and do my job," Tetevano told

"It's exciting to play in the NRL again. I've been out with a couple of injuries and have had a couple of games in the NSW Cup to get the fitness back up.

"It doesn't matter how long I go out there as long as I go hard and fast. I just need to make sure I'm not missing any tackles or dropping the footy – but it's good to be back and helping the boys out in first grade and hopefully we can get some results."

While Tetevano has embraced his time in the NRL so far this year, the Cook Islands representative isn't one to rest on his laurels, realising that he remains a work in progress for the Knights.

"I've only played two games in the NRL [this season] so I'm definitely harder on myself when I go into training and work on my fitness," Tetevano revealed.

"I just hope to play consistent really and keep playing NRL and to play good footy for my team and hopefully play more games."

Helping prop up the Newcastle pack will be no easy task for Tetevano this weekend, especially given their opponents at ANZ Stadium on Saturday are competition pacesetters Canterbury, whose pack is being driven by the in-form James Graham and Aiden Tolman.

"I just need to keep working on the little things... working hard on the inside and just competing really and mix it up with some defence and attack," Tetevano said.

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