Warriors utility Jazz Tevaga looks set to stay at the club, despite interest from several other teams.
Retaining the 23-year-old is a priority for the Auckland club, as Tevaga has been one of the few bright spots in a disappointing campaign.
Tevaga hasn't always reached the heights that saw him named Interchange Player of the Year at the 2018 Dally M awards but has impressed with his commitment. He plays with a determination not always apparent across the squad.
His retention would be a boost for the Warriors after a turbulent period where they have dropped three of their last four games, all at home.
"Hopefully I can finalise something here," Tevaga told the Weekend Herald. "I would prefer to stay. But if not, I have to look after myself. Hopefully they see me in their long-term plans, but if I don't fit, then so be it."
Tevaga's agent Bruce Sharrock said he would be seeking a new deal of at least two years.
"There has been some external interest but Jazz wants to stay with the Warriors and we are in that process and I am hopeful of an outcome," said Sharrock. "The club want him to stay. I'm hopeful we can get to a place everyone can agree on. We are not miles apart but it's my role to make sure we reach the right value."
Tevaga, who'll start at lock for the second successive week tonight, is three matches shy of 50 NRL games. He made his debut in a breakthrough 2016 season, playing 11 games, mainly as back-up hooker, but then went south the following year. Off-field problems and attitude issues limited the Christchurch-born player to just four appearances, which prompted a meeting with coach Stephen Kearney, littered with home truths, which helped him turn the corner.
At 1.78m and 94kg, Tevaga is one of the smallest forwards in the game but has found a way to be effective with his footwork, late movement before the line and deceptive strength.
He also has an uncanny ability to promote second phase – though he needs to improve his judgement on when to attempt offloads — and an impressive defensive workload.
Tevaga has made his name as an interchange utility but long-term has designs on the 13 jersey. He showed his potential at lock with a busy display against Penrith, with 187m from 22 carries and 45 tackles.
"I thought I did reasonably well," said Tevaga. "I came off a bit to restrap my ankle. From when I hurt it against the Broncos [in round 11], it is still not 100 per cent but I can manage it. I thought I had a solid performance but everyone has got improvements in them."
That will be needed tonight against an understrength but confident Knights team who have won six of their last seven games.
Newcastle are missing at least six first-choice players, including David Klemmer, Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga, but are always a tough proposition on home soil, with another bumper crowd expected.