Lakes premiership defence was given a welcome boost on Sunday with Knights coach Nathan Brown announcing Chris Adams would return to the Newcastle Rugby League club this weekend.
After coming up against the best in the NRL business for five matches Adams will rejoin his former teammates for their final round clash against Western Suburbs at Harker Oval on Saturday.
It follows a 42-0 thrashing Lakes received from competition leaders Macquarie at Peacock Field on Saturday.
The fourth-placed Seagulls were on top of the table when the NSW Country representative hooker last played on June 26 and have dropped two of six outings since.
He was initially called into the Knights squad before the June 30 transfer deadline as an injury replacement for Danny Levi (back) but ended up covering for Tyler Randall (ribs).
Adams, who turned 30 on Friday, played enough matches for Lakes in the first half of the 2016 season to qualify for finals.
“He heads back to Lakes,’’ Brown said after Adams played from the bench in Sunday’s 42-6 loss to Penrith at Hunter Stadium.
“That was always part of the deal. We’ve got to thank Lakes for letting him come.
“He’s obviously their most important player and their results have suffered.
“But big appreciation to Lakes for letting him come to us. Chris needs to go back now and hopefully, for Chris’s sake, he needs to help that club move forward with the semis coming up.’’
Lakes can finish no higher than fourth but can slip to fifth and give up a home elimination semi-final the following weekend if they lose to Wests and Kurri beat Coalfields rivals Cessnock.
The Goannas had their season ended by Wests after a hard-fought 12-8 loss at Harker Oval on Sunday, conceding two converted tries in the second half.
Cessnock are now resigned to sixth position while Wests will finish either second or third.
South Newcastle remain in that battle with Wests after breezing past last-placed Maitland 46-26 at Coronation Oval on Saturday.
And Kurri booked a finals spot with a 26-22 victory over Central at home on Saturday.
LADDER: Macquarie 23; South Newcastle, Western Suburbs 21; Lakes 18; Kurri Kurri 17; Cessnock 14; Central Newcastle, Maitland 3.