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Playing in pain elementary for Watson

The heavy brace on his right knee would suggest otherwise but Knights fullback Connor Watson is confident he will take his place against Canberra at GIO Stadium on Friday night.

The 22-year-old livewire suffered medial collateral ligament damage after touching down for what was ultimately ruled no try in the fourth minute of Newcastle's 16-14 loss to Penrith at McDonald Jones Stadium last Saturday.

"It's more of a precautionary thing to keep it still and safe," Watson said.

"I think if you do a little bit of damage to your knee, you always chuck one of these things on and they do look like it's a serious injury but a lot of the time it's not."

Watson had his leg strapped and finished the match, and is prepared to do likewise to line up for Newcastle's first away game of the season against the Raiders.

He is still awaiting the results of an MRI scan but has been named in Nathan Brown's unchanged team and was not listed on the club's injury report on Tuesday.

Knights fullback Connor Watson.
Knights fullback Connor Watson. ©Shane Myers/NRL Photos

"It's my MCL but we're not sure how bad it is yet," he said.

"It was when I dived to put the ball down for that try and Dylan Edwards came across and tried to stop it and sort of landed on my knee.

"It was a bit sore so I strapped it up but the positive sign is I got through the game, so hopefully it's not too bad. Once I got it strapped up, the pain wasn't too bad so I think the adrenaline helped.

"I'm available for selection but I guess I'll know more after we hear back from the MRI scan.

"I'll just strap it up and get through again."

To accommodate Kalyn Ponga's switch to five-eighth, Watson has started at fullback against Penrith and Cronulla in the first two rounds, describing his form as "a bit of a mixed bag".

"For me, it's just playing there and being consistent in that position and getting better every game," he said.

"It was a bit disappointing to lose on the weekend but even though we didn't play too well, we still put ourselves in a position to win so there's positive signs there, for sure.

"I played a lot of fullback as a kid … and it allows me to play my natural game a bit more, so the more games I play, the better I'm going to be there."

Watson understands there is weekly scrutiny on Newcastle's new-look spine, in particular on how his house-mate Ponga is adjusting to a new role in the halves alongside skipper Mitchell Pearce, but is only concerned with what his coach and teammates think.

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"For everyone, it's not a final product," the former Sydney Roosters utility said.

"We've played two games so far, so we're going to continue to get better every week and those combinations are going to keep building the more games we play and the more time we spend together on the field.

"Everyone's entitled to their own opinions and everyone has their own perception of things but at the end of the day, the real opinion that matters is Browny's and he wants us to play in those two positions so we’re happy to do that.

"Obviously the fans are going to have something they want to see but it's not always going to happen that way so that's how we deal with it – whatever the coach says, goes."

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