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Fresh start reaping rewards for match-winner Tuala

Enari Tuala's "Inspector Gadget" arms saved the day for the Knights against Manly on Sunday.

But it's the Newcastle club that is saving Tuala's football career.

After three seasons and 18 NRL games with the Cowboys, the North Queensland club didn't offer him a new deal as 2019 drew to a close.

In stepped the Knights and the far north Queensland local made the 22-hour, 2300km drive from Cairns to the Hunter Valley.

"I drove down thinking I wanted to put in a good pre-season and just work hard," Tuala told, after having initially signed a one-year contract.

"After the pre-season, I signed on for an extra year so I started off on a good note. They're a good bunch of blokes and welcomed me well."

Relive the final moments of Knights v Sea Eagles

It's just what the 21-year-old needed after the Edmonton Juniors footballer left Cairns to do his high schooling in Townsville before signing on with the Cowboys Under-20s. He made his NRL debut as an 18-year-old playing one game in 2017.

As fate would have it Tuala gets another crack at the Cowboys, when the Knights host them at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.

Tuala played all 80 minutes in the 32-20 loss to his old club in round seven.

"I found out I wasn't going to get re-signed by the Cowboys, so when the Knights reached out I thought I'd take it."

Tuala scores late in the half to secure lead for Newcastle

It was Tuala's  "Go Go Gadget" right arm extending over the Sea Eagles goal line, despite Reuben Garrick trying to pull him back, that levelled scores on Sunday. Kalyn Ponga's conversion brought the win after he had earlier supplied the final pass to Tuala.

With 13 games so far for the Knights in 2020, this is the most Tuala has played in a season in four years. And he's scored seven tries including the double against Manly.

"I just try to keep putting in consistent performances for the boys – keep turning up every weekend," he said.

He's played wing and centre this year but the instructions from coach Adam O'Brien are the same.

"Pretty simple really. He just wants me to do my job and be strong defensively."

O'Brien is a big admirer of the outside back. He marvels at what the slight frame of Tuala and another "little big man" in hooker-half Kurt Mann can do.

"He's got a good fighting spirit. That kid just keeps making plays whether it's with the ball or without," O'Brien said.

"He's only a little fella – same as Kurt – but those two pack plenty of punch."

Now it remains to be seen if the Knights can box a little harder and put themselves into the NRL finals for the first time in seven years.

"We just need to turn up every week with the right attitude and never take any team lightly," Tuala said.

Every try from round 14

"It's getting to the serious part of the season now so there's no time to let up."

It's fitting that several of Tuala's four-pointers have been from try assists by another North Queensland reject in Ponga.

"It's nice playing with him but I love all the boys in our backline. I'm still working out the best combinations with them so that's where I need to focus."