The phone call that lured Knight to Rabbitohs

Liam Knight was on his way to Canberra for the start of pre-season training when his phone rang.

"It's Wayne here," said the caller whose number Knight did not recognise.

"I don't know any Wayne," Knight replied.

"It's Wayne Bennett," were the next words Knights heard and he immediately sat up straight in the passenger seat of the car, which was being driven by a friend.

"I had never spoken to him before but I recognised the voice," Knight said.

"I went all weird and changed my voice.

"He said 'if you want to come to Sydney for an opportunity I can turn you into a footballer'. I didn't really know what to say."

As soon as Knight got off the phone to Bennett he called his manager, Gavin Orr.

"I was so excited I just said to him, 'do what you have to do to get me to Souths'," he said.

Rabbitohs prop Liam Knight.
Rabbitohs prop Liam Knight. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

A former NSW Under 20s representative, Knight is a player whose unrealised potential Bennett can help fulfil, as he did with Matt Lodge at the Broncos.

Knight, who was born in the Northern Territory and grew up on the NSW Central Coast, had already been keen to return to Sydney before Bennett's unexpected offer to make the prop his first Rabbitohs recruit.

He remains thankful to the Raiders for helping him turn his career around after a 2016 drink driving incident, but the 24-year-old wanted to be closer to family and friends in Sydney.

Rabbitohs prop Liam Knight.
Rabbitohs prop Liam Knight. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

However, Knight had to wait more than a month before anything further eventuated after the drama surrounding Bennett's move from Brisbane to the Rabbitohs in December.

"It was hard because I was still training for another month and it was still on the radar but in the back of my mind I was thinking 'what's going on'," said Knight, who made his NRL debut for Manly in 2016 and joined Sydney Roosters the following season.

"I was so grateful for the opportunity down at the Raiders. I wasn't in the best space off the field when I went down there but all the players and Ricky [Stuart] took me in straight away.

"I felt like I was part of the Raiders family and I found the love for footy again, but my friends and family are all in Sydney."

Of Knight's nine NRL appearances for Canberra last season, Bennett watched one game and liked what we saw of the 106kg, 194cm tall front-rower.

"He just said 'I like what you bring'. He said 'I watched you play and I saw something in you that I like in my teams. I like your aggression and your energy, and I think I could do something with you'," Knight recalled.

"I said 'I'd like to prove you right'. It was never really a decision, it was just something I had to do."

Rabbitohs prop Liam Knight.
Rabbitohs prop Liam Knight. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

After finalising his move to Souths in mid-December, Knight has settled in well.

He carried the ball for 122 metres and played 39 minutes off the interchange bench in last Friday's night's 26-16 defeat of Sydney Roosters.

Since arriving at Redfern, Sam Burgess has taken Knight under his wing and his size and playing style has drawn comparisons with the English star and his brothers, George and Tom.

"They're the same sort of personality as me, a little bit mad but they love their footy and I like being around them," Knight said.

"Me and Sam get on really well. On the field I am just really observing and watching Sam and all the boys really, but Sam is a big role model for me off the field as well."

Before joining the Raiders midway through the 2017 season, playing had become "a job or a chore" for Knight and he was caught in a downward spiral that saw him change clubs three times within nine months.  

"I lost the gratitude and sort of forgot what I had," he said.

"I was losing my way off the field, I am not sure why that is but I had a few setbacks injury wise - I broke my foot on debut and mentally it affected me more than I thought at the time.

"I was blaming people and it wasn't good but I love training, I love footy and I love being around the boys so I'm happy now."