The likely addition of David Klemmer will be the final piece of the Newcastle rebuild into a top-eight NRL contender, according to playmaker Connor Watson.
Talks on Canterbury’s release of Klemmer are expected to ramp up towards the end of this week, allowing him to take up a lucrative deal at the Knights.
And according to Watson and star teammate Kalyn Ponga, the addition of the incumbent Kangaroos prop should instantly make the Knights a finals team.
Klemmer could form an all-State of Origin front-row pairing with fellow new recruit Tim Glasby as destructive as any in the league.
Throw in another new face in James Gavet, in addition to Jacob and Daniel Saifiti, and lock Mitch Barnett, and the Knights’ group of middle men is suddenly deep.
“We’ll have two State of Origin front-rowers there,” Watson said.
“It’s been a bit tough for the guys here because people that have been playing front-row were in their first and second year.
“That’s only going to help them boys go even more, and the fact they’ve been blooded for those couple of seasons is only going to give them more experience.
“We’ll have a really good, experienced forward pack who’s played a lot of first grade footy.”
The new-look engine room could provide plenty of space for the likes of Ponga, who is slated for a career-changing switch into the halves.
Watson expects to train at fullback once both players return from their respective off-season surgeries in the coming weeks.
“I think the young forwards that were there last year will definitely learn off (Klemmer) and he’ll provide a good platform for us,” Ponga said.
“His momentum will be awesome. I heard he’s a really good bloke as well, which is fitting for our club, that’s what we want. It’d be pretty exciting if we get him.”
The Knights haven’t tasted finals since 2013 and only ended an unwanted streak of three consecutive wooden spoons this year.
But with a revamped roster at his disposal – former Cronulla centre Jesse Ramien is also on board – a top-eight spot is expected.
“I think everyone goes into the season with expectations to make the top eight. But I feel like this year, we should really do it,” Watson said.
“If we’re not kidding ourselves, we are a top eight side.”