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Robbo confirms Watson talks for Roosters return as Knights beef up offer

Trent Robinson has confirmed he has spoken with off-contract utility Connor Watson about a Roosters return as the Knights hope their three-year extension brings discussions to a head.

Watson's future has been uncertain for some time, with Newcastle hoping for a verdict on his plans beyond 2021 in the days after Sunday's critical clash with Cronulla.

Newcastle are understood to have tabled a three-year deal to the popular 25-year-old, though Watson has also been exploring his options elsewhere.

Robinson is understood to be a big fan of Watson's versatility - he has played lock, five-eighth, hooker and fullback during his career - after reluctantly releasing him to make the move to Newcastle at the end of 2017.

It is unclear if the Tricolours have weighed in with their own offer for Watson, though Knights officials believe a Roosters return is the biggest threat to their retention bid.

Watson cops an offload from a kick contest to score

After being underwhelmed by the initial money on offer to stay in Newcastle, it's believed the Knights added an extra year to sweeten the deal, which is now at its "take it or leave it" three-year term.

Watson at one point was exploring rival interest off his own bat after parting ways with his management last year, a process Robinson said came up in their conversations.

"There's been discussions with Connor but that's as far as I'll say," Robinson said on Wednesday.

"I've known him and known him as a player.

Play your part this Harvey Norman Women in League Round

"I've talked to him but I've also tried to help him as well in other places because I've known him as well.

"We talked about two things - whether there was an opening at the Roosters but then also what are the best options for him.

"I've kept in contact with Connor for the last four years since he's been away. And I'm always there for him and other players if they need advice as well."

Watson's contract negotiations are potentially delicate for Newcastle given his popularity and close ties with superstar No.1 Kalyn Ponga.

For the Roosters, their own retention efforts around in-demand star Joey Manu, and off-contract back-rower Angus Crichton, remain the club's priority.

Crichton's three-week suspension for a crusher tackle leaves the Roosters pack short for Friday's game against Brisbane.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves's resting due to several niggling issues will only last one week as Naufahu Whyte – a "physical being with good footwork" – becomes the Roosters' fourth debutant of the season.

Robinson said he hadn't "wasted much time" on Crichton's ban given a handful of prior offences had contributed to pushing it beyond what would have originally been a one-week suspension.

But the Roosters coach said there was confusion over what constitutes a crusher charge after Crichton was cited for a tackle on Penrith's Liam Martin.

"They're more varied than they've ever been before," Robinson said.

"They're more unsure of what a crackdown looks like and how they're going to [adjudicate it]. Our game is multiple people tackling people to spinning and ducking their head to get to ground.

Crichton banned three weeks over crusher

"These things are going to happen at different times and we don't want them.

"We have fought a lot of charges this year because we thought they've been wrong and they have been wrong.

"This one, there was pressure on Liam in that tackle, but we thought that he worked his way into that position and we thought that they could see that and they obviously couldn't. So we have just got to wear it and move on."

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