Newcastle fans are some of the most passionate in the NRL.

It's no secret that Adam MacDougall played his part in the Newcastle Knights' glory years, where passion for the club ran through the veins of players and fans alike. It's why the club legend has called for such zeal to reignite the club moving forward.

MacDougall, one of five players to feature in Newcastle's 1997 and 2001 premiership successes, said his passion for the club during his career left him uninterested to try his hand at rugby union.  

"When there are so many stars in a successful team, people start to think they're over the salary cap. But they're not – players are willing to stay for less. When you're in an environment you're comfortable within, you can't put a tangible money value on it," MacDougall told NRL.com. 

"There's always an opportunity to be paid a lot more to go elsewhere. I could have played rugby union for three times the amount of money I was getting at the Knights. Literally, three times. But I didn't do it because it wasn't what I was passionate about."

Understanding that winning goes hand in hand with building a strong culture MacDougall used the Sea Eagles' dominance over the past decade as an example for the Knights to strive towards.

"It's a lot harder for a club when you're not winning to build a culture. When you're a player and you're being offered more money to go to another club and you're not winning, the decision is pretty easy to go elsewhere," MacDougall said.

"When you feel like you're part of something that's going to be special, something that's growing and building and you're in with a chance to win a premiership; as a player you put your own interests second. 

"Someone may offer you more money to leave when you're winning but you're not keen to because you'll regret it. The Knights just need to start winning again and I'm sure once they have that winning culture it will create something special."

With his famed Man Shake the back of jersey sponsor for Newcastle in 2016 MacDougall is excited most by the acquisition of Trent Hodkinson.

"Trent is going to be a huge signing for them. Last year they underperformed really badly. I was waiting for them to take the next step but unfortunately that didn't happen," MacDougall said.

"I think the inclusion of Trent in the halves will really give Jarrod Mullen a lot of assistance. I think Jarrod is a tremendous player in what could be a good young side. 

"I honestly think the Knights are a team in the making and they're a couple of seasons away from being a really, really great side. This year is a huge test for a lot of these younger players to see if they have what it takes."

The Knights are set to blood five debutants against the Titans on Sunday night: Daniel and Jacob Saifiti, Pat Mata'utia, Jaelen Feeney and David Bhana. 

"These young kids will bring a lot of enthusiasm," MacDougall said. "If they play with the passion that some of the past players played with when they pulled on that jersey it'll bring back the fans in droves."

MacDougall's 'Man Challenge' breaks down barriers

Video first featured at newcastleknights.com.au