Departing Newcastle Knights veteran Willie Mason has taken time to reflect on the legacy he hopes to leave behind.
Sunday’s Old Boys Day at Hunter Stadium marks his final game with the Club after joining the Club midway through the 2012 season.
Despite playing at a number of Clubs throughout his career, Mason hasn’t been in a situation where he’s had a formal farewell like he will have on Sunday.
“It will be a privilege to do a lap of honour with all these guys and hopefully we’ll get a win,” he told the media at a press conference at Wests Mayfield on Thursday.
“I don’t know how I’m going to react.
“I was always thinking I was going to finish my career here and I wanted to finish my career here and I never really wanted to play for anyone else, so it was a shock for me and probably all my fans that I didn’t get my contract renewed.
“But that’s footy and I just reflect on the three years I’ve had here and they’ve been great.
“I’ve met some great people, the fans are awesome and I’ve always been a Newcastle boy at heart.
“I will miss the fans and the boys."
The 34-year-old, who will play his 60th game for the Club on Sunday, is proud of his leadership and influence on the younger players.
"Myself, Beau Scott and Jeremy Smith have instilled some toughness and a different attitude in the last three years," he said.
"I think next year will be a successful year for the Knights."
From the way Mason affectionately speaks about the Knights, it’s clear the Club holds a special place in his heart.
“It’s not like I’ve been a one-man one-club sort of player, but this Club means a hell of a lot to me, probably more so than the others,” he added.
“It’s wherever you enjoy your footy the most…and I love the footy I’ve been playing at the Knights."
One thing he is most grateful for in his time at the Club was the chance to foster a life-long relationship with his coach, Wayne Bennett.
“I just want to thank everyone, especially Wayne, I think he’s been such a great influence in the last three years,” Mason said.
“He’s made me mature more as a person, I wish I had him when I was 18, I’d probably be very polished by the time I was 22 (smiling).
“He’s taught me a hell of a lot in three years, both on and off the field and how to be a better human being."
Mason now hopes to depart the Club on a positive note at Old Boys Day this Sunday, when the Knights host the Dragons at Hunter Stadium.
Hear more from Mason's by clicking play on the press conference video.