As his lucrative four-year contract reaches its final season, Knights prop Kade Snowden said while his future beyond 2015 is playing on his mind he believes he's ultimately prepared for a huge season.
Signed by former Newcastle owner Nathan Tinkler at the height of mining magnate's power at the club in 2011, Snowden is yet to play a full season in the Hunter.
A knee injury in 2012, a seven-week suspension in 2013 and a three-month ASADA ban for his role in Cronulla's supplements program last year has kept Snowden from completing a full season of first grade in Newcastle.
Now hungrier than ever and with a trial against Canberra to look forward to on Saturday, the 28-year-old is keen to stay on the paddock and extend his career beyond this season.
"The contract stuff [is playing on my mind] a little bit. I think if I can get through the first couple of months without injuries then it'll play a big part in what I do and the season as a whole," Snowden told NRL.com.
"It'll influence my next contract obviously too. It's just a matter now of playing good once the season starts and that I remain doing so.
"Obviously [playing the full season] depends on injuries and suspensions I guess, but I'm really hopeful. I'm really looking forward to the season starting and I hope all goes well.
"Everyone is looking forward to start of the season so our trial against Canberra will be a good one. After the trial up in Port Macquarie last week I pulled up great and I'm looking forward to the coming weeks."
Despite not playing rep football since the 2012 NRL All Stars fixture, Snowden has impressive figures for the Knights.
In 17 appearances last season, Snowden averaged 27 tackles and 111 metres per game. Now with trio Willie Mason, Adam Cuthbertson and Matt Hilder moving on from the club, the Belmont North Sharks junior is looking to become a leader in the Hunter this year.
"We have a really young forward squad so we older boys are going to have to step up a bit more," Snowden said.
"I'm not much of a talker though, I love to set an example with the way that I play so I'll be definitely doing that."
Unsure who will partner him in the front row with Korbin Sims, Jack Stockwell and David Fa'alogo vying for a spot as one of the Knights' starting props, Snowden believes he or his fellow forwards roles won't change under new coach Rick Stone.
While Stone in his first stint as coach ensured his halves promoted the ball to their outside backs early in sets, Snowden said it won't prevent him from putting in the hard yards.
"Stone has kept all of us front-rowers style of playing the same. We just need to be careful and make sure we're helping one another out a bit more. How we usually would do stuff in terms of my position is how we are going to be this year," Snowden said.
"It doesn't matter if he was assistant coach last year or not, he hasn't tried to change the way I play considering it has been beneficial for me over the long run of my career."