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Guerra ready to battle for Knights spot, new contract

He will not give up his jersey without a fight, but Aidan Guerra will accept playing a supporting role at the Knights this year if that is what is required for them to become successful again.

Guerra, who turns 32 later this month, is the oldest player on Newcastle's books since the departure of his long-time former Roosters and Knights teammate Shaun Kenny-Dowall at the end of last year.

The former Queensland and Australian back-rower will be a free agent at the end of this season – his third with Newcastle and 11th overall – and wants to continue his career beyond 2020.

New coach Adam O'Brien has named the veteran forward as co-captain of Newcastle's NRL Nines squad, and his experience will be invaluable throughout the season, but Guerra is pragmatic enough to know how tough it will be to keep some of his younger teammates out of the top 17.

"I've been off contract a few times throughout my career, and it's always the same. If you're playing good footy, things will take care of themselves, and if not, you've got to be trying to play good footy," Guerra told reporters in Newcastle after training on Thursday.

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"I've done everything I can to get myself in shape to play and be a successful team member here, and … how best I can benefit the side.

"Moving forward, if that's me playing, I'm happy to do that. If it's me not playing because everyone else has elevated their game, then I'm happy to be there as well.

"When it does come to the future and re-signing, things like that, you let your football do the talking.

"It's not long until round one, then it's week by week after that, and hopefully my football is contributing to our team being successful and things will hopefully take care of themselves."

Guerra said he played the same role – providing leadership and a strong voice at training and on the field – in his first two seasons in Newcastle and the second half of an eight-year stint at the Roosters.

"That hasn't changed with the new coaching staff coming in," he said.

"That's how I get the best out of myself, and that's how I try to get the best out of my teammates, so I'm just going to continue doing that."

Guerra is fully fit again after a serious ankle injury restricted him to just 12 games last year. He came off the bench in all but one of those and will again face fierce competition from the likes of Mitch Barnett, Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Sione Mata'utia for a starting position.

Like everyone else at the Knights, he is desperate to help them build on the promise they showed in the middle stages of last season and return to the play-offs for the first time since 2013.

Guerra ready for Nines

"At the start of every season, everyone's goals are pretty similar – you want to play regular first grade and you want to be a part of a successful NRL team – and we've been doing everything we can out there on the field to become that side," he said.

"Obviously it's been preceded by some pretty unsuccessful years, and there's been a slight turn in the last couple of years, but we want to turn that cog a little bit more and we want to become a successful football side.

"The only way to do that as an individual is to play to the best of your ability, and if the best of my ability gets me playing every week, then I'm happy to be a part of it."

Guerra was excited about the prospect of teaming up with former Knights captain Kurt Gidley at the NRL Nines in Perth on February 14 and 15.

The 37-year-old former NSW captain, and veteran of 251 NRL games for Newcastle from 2001 to 2015, addressed players before training with them on Thursday in preparation for his Nines cameo.

"For Kurt to come over and impart whatever wisdom he's got, and for the boys to see what a true competitor he is, I'm sure that he's still got it in him – that will to win and that drive," Guerra said.

"He came and said a few words to us today and you could tell he's itching just as much as we are to play some footy now that he's been named, so we're looking forward to having him there as well."