The biggest Steel City contingent in the Origin arena since 2003 has Knights and NSW legend Danny Buderus tipping Newcastle to continue its revival with increasing clout in the player market.
With Mitchell Pearce's call-up for the Blues this week he became the fifth Knights player involved in this year's interstate series alongside Blues David Klemmer and Daniel Saifiti, and Queenslanders Tim Glasby and Kalyn Ponga (currently injured).
Record books have to be trawled back 16 years to find more Novocastrians playing in one Origin series, when Buderus was joined by Eighth Immortal Andrew Johns, Ben Kennedy, Matt Gidley, Timana Tahu and Josh Perry in the Blues 2-1 series victory in 2003.
Pearce, Klemmer and Glasby were all signed by the Knights as representative players, while Ponga had long been touted for the highest level when Newcastle lured him south Townsville.
Saifiti however is the first local junior to represent NSW from the Knights since Akuila Uate in 2012.
As Nathan Brown struggled to drag the club from the mire of three consecutive wooden spoons, big money bids for the likes of Jack Bird, Matt Scott, Dale Finucane and Matt Prior were all rebuffed.
Buderus – who acts a selection advisor to Blues coach Brad Fittler – is understandably chuffed with the return of red and blue to both the top eight and NSW camp, and expects the turnaround to be a significant selling point for the Knights.
"It's fantastic to see such a strong representative contingent after a few lean years," Buderus tells NRL.com.
Match: Blues v Maroons
Game 3 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium
- Nine Network
"It'll help Newcastle enormously, all clubs that send their players off to Origin know they're going to get back players who are more confident in themselves and what they can do in big games.
"It comes back at NRL level. There's good things happening there in Newcastle.
"And the big thing that really changes for Newcastle, when you've got elite players playing on the big stage, it's a great recruitment tool too.
"These guys want to play with each other, they want to play with the best and Newcastle is getting there."
The Knights have already identified Cronulla's Jayden Brailey as their latest recruitment target, with the Sharks hooker weighing up whether to pursue a release at the end of 2019 or see out the final year of his deal amid interest from Newcastle and Canterbury.
NRL.com understands that Saifiti is also close to re-signing with the Knights on an upgraded deal.
Having debuted in 2016 and won only two of his first 38 games for the club, Saifiti in particular has reaped the rewards of Newcastle's eventual success in the marquee player market.
"Daniel's the local boy that's come through in that group," Buderus says.
"He's been with the Knights through that rough trot, it's a building process for sure. He's pretty resilient as a result, he's had that period to start his career where there wasn't success.
"But he's turned the corner with his career, his preparation and he understands what's needed.
"You talk about recruitment and that's the beauty of what's going on at Newcastle, he's seen Klem and Glasby and what it takes to be at Origin level, and he's followed them. Now he's got reward for keeping at it."