Knights utility Connor Watson has dismissed suggestions a rift with coach Adam O'Brien prompted his eventual return to the Roosters for less money and job security.
Watson volunteered to front the media on Wednesday following reports a strained relationship with O'Brien prompted him to call Trent Robinson after initially being underwhelmed by Newcastle's original extension offer.
The 25-year-old utility will be a Rooster again in 2022 after plumping for a two-year deal believed to be worth around $300,000 a season, a slightly reduced salary from that offered by the Knights over what was eventually a three-year contract.
Watson said his call to Robinson had originally been made as he sought advice on a possible shift to Super League and "at the end of that he was curious whether the Roosters could get me back and have a spot there for me".
He and O'Brien denied outright any issues between the pair or Knights squad, with Watson declaring the Newcastle coach had "instilled my love for rugby league again" after a serious Achilles injury left his career at a crossroads last year.
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Watson said the contract talks eventually weighed on him to the point he would distance himself from teammates in Newcastle's South-East Queensland bubble.
"It's been the hardest decision I've ever had to make," Watson said.
"I'm not really one to be too moody but the last few weeks I've felt like I had a big black cloud hanging over me.
"I was separating myself from the group because I needed to be in the right head space to make the call.
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"That's why I took so long with it as well, I know it was such a big decision.
"It's a big call for me to turn my back on the Knights, they offered me a three-year deal and the Roosters' is only two.
"I think going back to the Roosters really takes me out of my comfort zone, and they say when you're out of your comfort zone that's when you grow the most."
On reports he and other players do not see eye-to-eye with O'Brien and senior Knights figures, Watson said: "There's been [suggestions] that mine and Adam's relationship is divided which is so far from the truth.
"We were transparent through the whole thing. I told him about the conversations I was having.
"Since Adam has been here he's probably instilled my love for rugby league again.
"My first couple of years at the Knights I battled through injury. I didn't know my role and got moved around a lot.
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"I got injured last year and he showed faith in me to re-sign me and the club did a great job of rehabbing my Achilles. I wouldn't be here in this position today if they hadn't shown faith in me.
"My football was not where it is now."
Watson indicated he had also fielded interest from the Wests Tigers and is relieved to have his future sorted leading into Saturday's clash with Canterbury.
O'Brien said he understood the angst of Newcastle fans at losing a player like Watson but was adamant the popular figure's looming exit would not hinder the club's finals bid.
"Our supporters, our sponsors are rightfully so upset by it because he's such a good human being," he said.
"Everyone's attached to him. My household's attached to him and all of Newcastle is.
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"It's footy, you can't keep them all. We were here two weeks ago celebrating signing five of them. We've lost a pretty important one today, but we haven't lost him yet.
"We're a really tight playing group, really honest with each other.
"We're in a position where we can do something with our season and I'm not going to let something like this derail this group."