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Unfinished business: Watson hooking in to earn new contract

Newcastle livewire Connor Watson has unfinished business in 2020 and believes the NRL's recent spell has enabled him to assess things through time he otherwise wouldn't have.

Let's start with on the paddock where Watson left Knights headquarters last month with a final message from Adam O'Brien the moment Jayden Brailey's ACL injury was confirmed – the No.9 jersey was his when the season resumes. The NRL announced on Thursday afternoon that May 28 had been set as the date.

Watson spent seven games at hooker in 2019 with many league pundits – including Andrew Johns – believing his best position was packing into the scrum.

"It sucks to lose Brails, we didn't think it was that bad and I couldn't believe it when we heard the news," Watson told NRL.com.

"But just after he got injured I was told to prepare to play there when we get back.

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"I thought that was where I played my best footy last year and I felt like I was going alright.

"I've been focusing on my passing but it's been hard only being able to train with one other person so you can't do too much subtleties around the hooker role.

"There's a lot I've got to learn there but I think I've got the ability and the way I play suits that role.

"If you see an opportunity you've got to take it but the only thing you can do at the moment is watch video to learn and understand the breakdown of numbers.

"That comes back to training and backing your instincts in a game. You've got to be aware that if you see an opportunity but go against a main call then it needs to count."

Watson's performances when the NRL resumes next month could go a long way to the former Rooster securing a contract extension at the club.

He insists to not being worried about his future despite the details of what the salary cap might look like next year under a cloud.

"I feel like I've got unfinished business here at the Knights," Watson said.

"I had the same thing at the Roosters and left early but I do love Newcastle, the people, the place and playing for the team. I'd love to stay and win a premiership."

So what about Kalyn Ponga, the superstar fullback whose future was a major topic over the summer and just happens to be Watson's housemate – does that have any sort of sway?

"Yeah maybe it does, he's signed here for a couple more years," Watson said.

"But once footy comes back I'm confident my future should take care of itself, I've also got to look at what's best for me in this situation.

Last time they met: Knights v Cowboys - Round 22, 2019

"I thought I started the year well so it was frustrating when it all finished up."

Watson and Ponga have bounced between helping both sets of parents this week as part of their isolation.

They helped Ponga's parents Andre and Adine with landscaping needs over two days before hitting the road to Sydney to help Watson's parents, Mark and Jodie, deliver much-needed hygiene care to those in need.

In between all that Watson is also finishing his certificate III and IV in fitness, while the pair are working on their latest project, a podcast called 257 Collective.

"If you can take one positive out of this break it's allowed for players to take some time and slow down and do things you normally wouldn't," Watson said.

"When you play a season it's flat out and then you want to go on a holiday somewhere so you usually head overseas for a month and you're flat out over there travelling and exploring.

"It's been a while since I've had time to sit back and work on things I'm passionate about that I don't get time with footy.

 
 
 
 
 
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Back on the tools today. 2 of the best workers you’ll find @kalyn__ponga

A post shared by CONNOR WATSON (@connorwatson1) on

"Kalyn and I have wanted to do something together for a long time so we're going to interview other guys in the team now and people from other walks of life."

So, where did the name come from?

"That's our house number," Watson laughed.

"It's where all our mates hang out and this is where we come up with ideas. Everyone's creative in different ways and people express that.

"The way social media is now it's more acceptable because we're able to show it so hopefully we can get something up and running and show we're not all about a footy in hand."