South Sydney winger Dane Gagai has welcomed the prospect of playing former club Newcastle in the opening week of the finals series ahead of his 200th NRL game on Friday night.
Gagai will make his return from a one-week suspension against the Roosters at ANZ Stadium on Friday but a sudden-death match against the Knights looms the following week regardless of the Telstra Premiership final round result.
The Rabbitohs could host the Knights at the Olympic Park venue in a home final - if Newcastle lose to the Titans on Friday - or be forced to travel to the Hunter where Gagai spent six seasons.
The Maroons representative was part of Newcastle's last finals campaign in 2013 before he left four years later to take up a lucrative South Sydney offer.
Gagai's reasoning at the time was a bid to play more finals footy as the Knights underwent a major rebuild and roster overhaul.
Dane Gagai reaches 200 NRL games
"I'm not thinking too far ahead but I guess being there for so long and for them to be out for so long in the finals I think it's good for the town," Gagai said.
"The people of Newcastle are good people and for them to have a team in the finals is good for them.
"Playing [the Roosters] this week will be good for us leading into the first round of the finals.
Rabbitohs v Roosters - Round 20
"We aimed for the top four at the start of the season to get a second crack but we don't have that luxury now.
"We've fallen short twice and it's every footy players' dream to win a premiership."
Gagai is enjoying one of the best seasons of his 10-year career after past criticism around his inconsistent form at club level.
However, he has put his own pending milestone aside to address the side's recent shock loss to Canterbury that showed signs of complacency leading into the crunch stage of the season.
"It was definitely tough sitting on the sidelines watching the game," Gagai said.
"It was probably more so because we didn't play to our capability. We dropped too much ball, had too many penalties and [conceded] tries off kicks.
"At the end of the day we've got to build momentum and pressure to be able to bring [our attacking players] into the game.
"If we keep turning the ball over we won't allow players like that to do what they do."