Whether this season proves to be his last hoorah in the NRL or not, Chris Heighington is adamant about one thing – at 36, he is not at the Knights just to make up the numbers.
One of just three current players [Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk are the others] to have played more than 300 NRL games, Newcastle is just his third NRL club since debuting at the Wests Tigers in 2003.
He was part of their premiership-winning side in 2005 and enjoyed a second premiership win with Cronulla in 2016.
He says the move up the freeway from his Central Coast home has given him another new lease of life.
“Putting a new colour on and being around new people at a new club, it does feel like a new start,” he said.
“Training’s been great and I’ve got to know the boys pretty good and I’m enjoying their company.
“It actually feels a bit similar to when I first started at the Tigers with all the young blokes here and we won the title in 2005. I’m not saying we will do that here but we are definitely building for success.
“Browny’s a really cluey coach and he’s got some good assistants so the place is in real good hands.”
Heighington, who says he is taking it a season at a time, is not so sure about the father figure label.
“I’m still pretty immature so I don’t know about being a father figure,” he said.
“I’m 36 but I still feel young, laughing and joking around with the boys. There are some great young kids coming through so it’s a joy to be able to train alongside them.
“I’ll just try and lead by example on and off the field. Mentoring will be part of it. But obviously, I want to play.
“There is a bit of depth in the middle and hopefully I can trial well and find a position there.”