Connor Watson has declared himself fit for a trial against Melbourne next Saturday, seven months after the Knights utility suffered a serious Achilles injury.
With second-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon's shoulder problem set to rule him out for the start of the season, Mitch Barnett is likely to shift to an edge role and allow Watson to slot into the No.13 jersey.
Watson said his time on the sidelines had allowed him to "realign my thinking" and place more of an emphasis on enjoying life as a footballer; the career he first dreamed of as a six-year-old.
"I'll definitely be playing against Melbourne. It's been a long time for me. I'm really excited, a little bit nervous, but I just can't wait," Watson said of the upcoming trial, which has been moved to Albury after the recent COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown in Victoria.
The versatile 24-year-old had a minor setback with his Achilles, not training on Friday after he was "jammed up in a tackle the other day", but insisted medical staff were being "extra cautious".
The attacking threat of a fully-fit Knights spine
In preparation for his full-time switch to a running forward, Watson said he'd added a few more kilograms to his frame.
"I could play light in the middle, but then you feel the bumps and bruises a bit more," Watson said.
"Especially if I'm going to be starting there and [with] more contact, I think I needed to be a little bit bigger and the guys thought I needed to be a little bit bigger. I've gone and done that which is good."
Meanwhile, star back-row recruit Tyson Frizell said he was beginning to "find my feet" in the Novocastrian lifestyle.
"The longer I've been here, the more I've started to enjoy. The town's awesome, the people here are very kind," Frizell said.
"They've been very welcoming, to be honest, everywhere I've gone. A lot of smiles, a lot of hellos, which is nice."
The NSW and Australian representative, who joined the club from the Dragons, expressed his disappointment for Fitzgibbon after he underwent shoulder surgery last week.
"But these things happen in footy," he added.
"Me and Barney [Barnett] are going to have to do a job there and look after our edges for the time being."
Frizell expects to have his first trot in Newcastle colours in Albury.
"I'm not too sure to what extent, how many minutes and stuff like that, but I'm looking forward to getting a run," he said.