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It doesn’t seem that long ago that Clint Newton was a fresh-faced rookie learning from the best in the business.   

The lad born in South Carolina in the United States, but raised in Newcastle and taught to bleed the red and blue of the Knights alongside experienced names like Andrew Johns and current CEO Matt Gidley.    

Flash forward 13 years and Newton is now that senior player with the power to influence the Club's next generation of stars.  

Speaking after training on Wednesday, the veteran back-rower says it's a responsibility he relishes - especially in a season where the team has faced plenty of challenges, on-and-off the field.           

“I’m looking forward to helping," Newton said ahead of Saturday's clash against the Roosters, his first top grade game for Newcastle since 2007. 

“That’s all part and parcel with playing in a football team.

“You’ve got some young guys there that have developed some experience.

“And at the moment, some of them are developing some experience in some tough times.

“But this will go towards benefiting them for the future.” 

You see, as difficult as 2014 has been for the Knights, Newton knows the Club has faced tougher times. 

Like the 2005 season, when on the back of a Club record 13 consecutive losses, the Knights collected their first wooden spoon.  

Newton has fond memories of the struggles that season, but also how the adversity inspired the team to win eight of their remaining 12 matches. 

The veteran forward says the current side can use that year as inspiration to fight through their form slump. 

"If you just keep knocking on the door, it will end up opening and that’s what we’ve got to keep doing," he says.

"That’s what we did in ’05 and it turned out to be one of the most successful backends of the year.

"We deserved to finish where we did in ’05, but there was a tremendous amount of courage shown by the players that they could turn it around.

"We could have put the white flag up... but that’s not good enough and this football side has got plenty of character and I think you’ll see it turn around." 

Newton has no doubts the Knights can salvage some pride this season, particularly if they continue to receive strong support from their faithful fans.

He says loyalty from the supporters was a major reason why the 2005 side was able to turnaround such a disastrous start to the year.   

"Well one thing that stands out in my mind is the support of the Newcastle people," he recalls. 

"That was second to none and that proved that we’ve got the best supporters in Australia in rugby league.

"And you saw that again on the weekend with 22,000 there on the back of a number of losses.

"I know the boys really appreciate that and even as someone who didn’t play, I really appreciated the turn out."

While Newton is pumped at the prospect of playing NRL this weekend, he admits running around in the top grade ranks wasn't necessarily his goal upon returning to Newcastle.

The 32-year-old says his first aim was to help the Club's younger players and any first grade promotion would just be a bonus.   

"I get an opportunity to play this weekend through some injury and suspension, but that’s footy," he says.

"I’m just looking to get out there and hopefully put in a good performance.

"I can’t wait; obviously it has been a long time coming to come back to Newcastle and play.

"I finally got a chance a couple of weeks ago in the NSW Cup and now I get an opportunity to play first grade with my childhood team and a team that I’ve always been really passionate about.

"It will be unreal, especially against a team like the Roosters.

"I’ve got a lot of respect for that team. They’ve got a tremendous amount of quality.

"They are well coached and are the defending premiers, so what better way to come back and test yourself."

As for how his biceps injury is travelling just two weeks into his comeback from a six-month lay-off, Newton said it was fully fit and ready for action.  

"It’s 100 per cent," he confirms. 

"I’ve never had big biceps anyway (laughs).

"So it’s just one of those things that you have to deal with and then move forward from.”  

Just like the Knights did back in '05 and with Newton's help they'll do it again this season.