KNIGHTS coach Rick Stone sensed a climate change could help Cowboys prop Antonio Kaufusi return to the form that earned him Australian and Queensland jerseys.
A Kangaroos representative in 2006 and Maroons squad member for the first game of the 2007 Origin series, Kaufusi has a year to run on his contract with North Queensland, but the Knights are on the verge of signing him for the rest of this season and a further two years.
Stone said the Knights had not yet finalised a deal with the 25-year-old forward and had to move quickly to complete the transfer before the June 30 deadline.
"I've spoken to a few people who know him pretty well, and they think maybe Townsville, maybe the heat thing, mightn't have been the best thing for him," Stone said of Kaufusi, who played six seasons in Melbourne before joining the Cowboys last year.
"But he looks like he's still in good shape and still got that speed and agility that made him the player he was as far as carrying the footy's concerned. He's a player who has obviously reached a fair level and done a fair bit in his career."
Tongan-born Kaufusi represented his birth nation alongside Knights players Richie Fa'aoso and Cooper Vuna in the 2008 World Cup.
Stone said the presence of several players of Polynesian heritage at Newcastle would be beneficial.
"I feel he's still got something to offer and I think he still thinks he has. He's not an old bloke by any stretch of the imagination," he said.
"Look, we have got a few Polynesian blokes here and we possibly do train a little bit differently to some of the other teams, and I think that style may help him a little bit.
"Sometimes a player gets into a club and for whatever reason - personality clash, homesickness, not enjoying their footy or whatever - it sometimes stops them from performing at their best.
"A lot of those times, a change can be the best thing possible for them."
Stone confirmed the Knights had signed Dragons under 20s halfback Beau Henry and Warriors under 20s centre Siuatonga Likiliki for next season.
"They're probably two of the best NYC players in the comp," he said.