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Trip down memory lane has Watson primed for Parra

Almost 20 years on, Newcastle's 2001 grand final win over Parramatta still brings back great memories for departing utility Connor Watson, who was in the grandstands that night.

Just five-years-old at the time, Watson travelled down the freeway from his home in Avoca alongside some of his Eels-mad family, daring to utter the word 'Knights' when asked who was going to win.

"I remember we had the worst seats, big nose-bleeds and the stadium was still open at that point so my Pop had his binoculars to look down," Watson recalled this week.

"Everyone else was going for Parra that night but I was going for the Knights. At five I wasn't too worried about footy but from that day on I fell in love with the Knights and have been supporting them ever since."

After four years at the Knights, Watson is preparing to move on, but he hopes the journey won't end this weekend against the Eels.

Re-signed Brailey sees big future at Knights

"Just supporting the Knights all the way through I remember how cut we would get when we didn't make the finals," Watson said.

"Hopefully all the young Knights fans are stoked we're back in there. You want to play in big games and test yourself against big teams.

"I definitely don't want it to be [the end]. It hasn't really crossed my mind too much. It still doesn't feel real because especially being here you're always around the boys.

The case for the four underdogs in the opening week of the finals

"I want to play four more games here. We've got to start this weekend and it's a big opportunity for us."

This Sunday's sudden-death clash signals the first finals clash between the Knights and Eels since the 2001 decider, and the stage is set for an epic showdown as both sides look to keep their season alive.

The Knights will go into the clash as underdogs given their patchy journey towards the finals and Parramatta's ultra impressive victory over the Storm a fortnight ago.

"I think in the last couple of weeks we've seen what we're they're capable of," Watson said.

"They've got a good forward pack, it's going to be a big match-up. We've done a pretty good job of winning the close games.

"Apart from two or three games, our defence has been a lot better in the last 10 weeks. We're working on things attacking-wise and defensively.

Looking back at the 2001 Grand Final

"Defence wins comps. We've got some improvement to do in both areas but I think we've got the talent here to go to new levels.

"When we were in the finals last year we were stoked to be there but this year there's a feeling of we're not done with yet.

"We've got a lot more footy in us. If we can unlock that who knows what we can do."


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