Knights' Watson to fight for new NRL deal

Matt Encarnacion
This NRL season could be make or break for Connor Watson of the Knights

He arrived as a five-eighth, played some fullback and spent last season at hooker.

Now Newcastle utility Connor Watson admits next NRL season could be a career-defining one as he attempts to finally nail a starting spot and earn a new contract.

Set to enter the third and final year of his current deal with the Knights, Watson knows he his time is now.

"I come into a big year for myself personally," Watson told reporters on Tuesday.

"I'm off-contract now, so obviously there's a big emphasis (on) me playing some good football this year."

Where new Knights coach Adam O'Brien deploys Watson will be one of the biggest questions ahead of their trials.

Watson arrived two years ago as a playmaker from the Roosters but spent the last three weeks of the 2019 season under interim coach Kristian Woolf in the No.9 jumper.

"I played a fair bit of nine last year and I really enjoyed it. I felt like I played my best footy there, and probably the best footy I've played for a while," he said.

"I'd like to be able to build on that, but we've got Jayden (Brailey) here now as well.

"I've trained all over the place to be honest. I trained at five-eighth (on Monday), trained at a bit of lock (Tuesday) and did a bit of hooker last week.

"But the thing for me is there's competition here for every spot.

"So for me, (it's) to just go and put my best foot forward in one of those positions, hopefully lock down a spot. But nine is probably my preference."

With Kalyn Ponga assured of the fullback spot and Brailey signed as a hooker, the most likely option for Watson is to partner Mitchell Pearce in the halves.

However Watson concedes there are hurdles for him in that position as well.

"For me to be able to play six, I probably need to work on my game management and kicking. If I'm to play six, I'm not a natural six in a sense," he said.

"I'm more of a ball runner. I think I've just got to go and play to my ability at six and play the way that I know how to play, which I have done."