Knights’ enforcer Jeremy Smith has confirmed he’ll take his place in Saturday’s season-opener against Penrith after overcoming a niggling knee injury.
Smith injured his right knee in the Club's final trial against Canberra in Tamworth a fortnight ago, but on the back of a strong recovery he says he is fully fit and ready to take on the Panthers.
"I’ve given it a good test out this morning and it is ready to go," Smith said after training on Friday.
"It was a little bit sore when it first happened, but the staff here have been great and they’ve got me back on track.”
Newcastle heads into Saturday's clash with an unchanged set of forwards from last season, including Kade Snowden who returns for his first NRL game since last season's seven-game suspension.
Smith believes familiarity will ensure the Knights' pack are ready to fire against the Panthers.
"I think we will be good," he says.
"We’ve still got a bit of mongrel there and the boys are pumped and ready.
"Having Snowey back lightens the load a bit for Mase, Beau and myself.
"So it will be good and we are excited.
"This is probably the first full pre-season I’ve done for a while and the staff and the boys have really tucked into it.
"Now I’m looking forward to round one."
With many experts predicting Penrith to perform well in 2014 with recruits like Jamie Soward, Brent Kite and Jamal Idris, Smith says Newcastle will be taking nothing for granted at Sportingbet Stadium.
"It’s round one and everyone is starting fresh," he says.
"I dare say they’ve had a long and tough pre-season as well.
"I haven’t seen too much of them at all, so I can’t really say too much.
"But it looks like they’ve brought pretty well and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens."