While he may be at long odds to ever head coach in the NRL again, Rick Stone still harbours ambitions to be involved at a professional level in a senior coaching position.
It's the reason he is holding off accepting the Wests Rosellas coaching job in the Newcastle comp in 2020.
With a number of NRL assistant roles yet to be filled, Stone has told us he has had a "couple of little nibbles" in that regard. Given his relationship with Trent Robinson, a job at the Roosters could be a possibility.
There are also his current roles as coach of both the CRL Newcastle and Roosters NRL women's sides to consider.
Stone is being as respectful to the Rosellas as he can under the circumstances and is fully aware they are not going to wait around for too much longer for an answer from the former Knights coach. He says the prospect of coaching his son Ben at Wests is an obvious attraction.
"At the moment, I'm just sitting tight a little bit to see what might unfold in the next week or two but I know I am going to have to give Wests an answer pretty soon," Stone told us.
It will come as no surprise, given the number of middle forwards in their roster, that the Newcastle Knights aren't in the market for another one.
There has been speculation over the past few weeks that the club is targetting ex-Dragons and Panthers forward Trent Merrin for next season. It is well wide of the mark.
"We aren't in the market for frontrowers," Knights player list manager Troy Pezet told us.
Kalyn Ponga probably won't look back on season 2019 with any real joy but the dynamic young fullback will at least get the chance to finish the year on big high.
After his controversial move into the halves lasted just three games, there were glimpses of Ponga's brilliant best for the Knights but the burden of continually being the side's go to man for something extra special in attack made him a big target for rival teams. His form at the back-end suffered as the team's fortunes nose-dived.
But after an overseas freshen up [he was in London yesterday], Ponga will no doubt be a star attraction for Australia at the World Nines on October 18 and 19 at Bankwest Stadium.
He also seems certain to feature in a Kangaroos Under 23's side that will take on France as a curtain-raiser to the Australia-New Zealand Test at Wollongong's WIN Stadium on October 25. The team, to be coached by Neil Henry, could feature the likes of Nathan Cleary, Payne Haas, David Fifita, Bronson Xerri and Ryan Papenhuyzen to name just a handful.
It seems you are never too old to do work experience.
As part of the sports management course he is doing at Newcastle University, ex-Knights captain Jamie Buhrer, who turns 30 next month, has switched codes and is doing an internship with the Newcastle Jets.
Earlier this week, Buhrer, one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, was helping out with media after training and was also spotted doing his bit at the Jets' 500 Club breakfast on Wednesday morning.
It's understood he is still weighing up his future playing options after finishing up with the Knights this season.
Opportunity is the reason young centre Brayden Musgrove has quit the Knights to sign with Manly for next season.
A development player with the Knights this year, the Cessnock junior did not show club officials enough to earn a spot in the top 30 roster for 2020.
But Manly saw it differently and offered him a spot in their top squad. If Musgrove manages to get over his injury setbacks, don't be surprised if he comes back to bite the Knights at some stage in the future. The Knights have shown some faith in another Cessnock junior though.
Lower grade backrower Brodie Jones will be at the club for at least another season. Like Musgrove, Jones spent time back in the local comp with the Goannas during the season but is rated highly. The questions around Jones have been about whether he wants it badly enough.
Knights recruitment almost done
New Knights coach Adam O'Brien will arrive in Newcastle within the next few weeks once his Sydney Roosters commitments are completed, no doubt ready to roll up the sleeves and get stuck into preparations for next season.
What he won't have to worry too much about initially is recruitment.
We're told the Knights currently have just three vacancies to fill in their top 30 for next year with outstanding youngsters Phoenix Crossland, Bradman Best and Starford Toa among the players to earn promotions into the main squad.
The vacancy numbers will stretch to five if hooker Danny Levi and prop James Gavet depart during the off-season as is expected.
Promising young hooker Luke Huth and forward Mat Croker, who both played NSW Under 20's this year, have been elevated to NRL development status, joining Tex Hoy.
The club is in the market for an outside back but given there are still doubts over how much money they will have to spend as they look to try and off-load some players, don't expect a rushed decision on a new recruit.
"Like we did last year when we eventually picked up Klem [David Klemmer], we'll keep our powder dry until the right bloke comes along,"one Knights source said.
While the 2020 roster is not far from being finalised, you can expect O'Brien and his staff will already be eyeing off who is coming off contract at rival clubs at the end of next year with a view to 2021.
Former Sydney Roosters forward Paul Carter may have played his last game for Cessnock after two seasons at the club with the Goannas baulking at re-signing him for next season.
Carter did not have a huge impact this year and played off the bench in the big end-of-season games.
In recruitment news, the Goannas have signed a Pommy frontrower who toured Australia with an English Lions Academy team back in 2012 alongside Canberra Raiders star John Bateman.
Liam McAvoy, currently playing with Newcastle Thunder in England, has agreed to terms with Cessnock but is hoping to spend the pre-season training with the Knights NSW Cup squad.