Stockwell not following Mason's footsteps
On paper, new Knights recruit Jack Stockwell may be filling the hole left by former Blues and Australian prop Willie Mason, but he says his arrival in Newcastle will allow him to become his own man.
After being granted permission to seek other opportunities by Dragons coach Paul McGregor, Stockwell shifted to the Hunter in a move he said will allow him to play consistent football and grow as a player under reinstated coach Rick Stone.
When asked about replacing cult hero Mason, Stockwell said it isn't a case of filling the breach left by the veteran rather than cut his own piece of cloth when it comes to the game's best front-rowers.
"I just want to play my own game – that's what I want to do for the Knights and all our fans. I just want to play consistently and get Newcastle plenty of wins," Stockwell told NRL.com.
"I wouldn't say I'm replacing [Mason]. But I would say there are a lot of little areas where everyone needs to improve on and Stoney and I have been focusing on a couple of them at training… and it is going good. There are things that I need to fix up but it is all a work in progress.
"You always have to be improving. This is what this off-season is about for me – get bigger, get stronger and just prove that I can and should be playing in the NRL. I'm looking to cement myself a place in the team and show everyone what I'm capable of."
Stockwell, 22, is no stranger to competing for an NRL spot having played just 35 games in three seasons since his debut and said he realised the battle ahead of him.
With the likes of regular Newcastle props David Fa'alogo, Kade Snowden, Chris Houston and Korbin Sims fighting for spots along with rookies Sam Mataora and Paterika Vaivai, Stockwell said he has his work cut out for him.
"There are a lot of quality props here at the Knights so there is going to be some tough competition for those couple of spots in the side. I'm looking forward to what's ahead and I know the other boys are too," Stockwell said.
"I'm pretty happy with how [pre-season] has gone so far. I just want to stay injury-free and play as many games as I can. The eventual goal is to get a rep jersey but that comes with good, consistent football… which is what I'm looking to do next year at the Knights."
Joining the club alongside former Cowboys back-rower Tariq Sims and Warriors utility Carlos Tuimavave, Stockwell said he has fitted in nicely at the club.
"The boys are really helping me out and showing me around and showing me what there is to do in Newcastle which has been good," Stockwell said. "I've met some really nice people so far… and training has been really good. I've been learning a lot off Stoney."