AFTER two forgettable campaigns at the Knights, centre Tautau Moga hopes a fresh start under new coach Adam O'Brien and potentially his first full pre-season in three years can help revive his NRL career.
Off contract at the end of next season, the Samoan international has played just 10 NRL matches across two years at Newcastle after coming from Brisbane with high expectations.
Moga, who turned 26 last week, required a fourth knee reconstruction after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament when scoring a try in round four against the Dragons in 2018.
His future beyond that season was further clouded after he pleaded guilty to common assault for twice slapping a taxi driver on Boxing Day.
He escaped conviction but the Knights fined him $60,000, half of which was suspended.
This year, Moga ended a frustrating stint in reserve grade with a six-game run in the NRL from rounds 17 to 22.
Asked if he had a point to prove in 2020, Moga said: "One hundred per cent".
"I had a taste of first grade last year and it was my goal to get back into it.
"The next goal now is to start and hopefully stay there the whole season."
After his roller-coaster run at the Knights, the former Roosters, North Queensland and Broncos player was looking to next year as "just a fresh start" under O'Brien.
"And not only that, but just having a full pre-season," he said. "That's probably a massive thing for me. I haven't had a full pre-season since 2017 and that was the last time I played a full season.
"Obviously everyone needs it, the body needs it, so it should be good."
Moga took longer than expected to get back into the top grade in 2019 and he admitted that "just coming back from the knee was obviously hard".
"I just wanted to get back and play footy. That was my main goal, just to play footy, and good footy, too.
"My goal was to get back there and play first grade, which I did, now it's a fresh start, and hopefully I start the season."
However, Moga faces strong opposition for a spot at centre from the likes of Bradman Best, Starford To'a, Hymel Hunt and recruits Gehamat Shibasaki and Enari Tuala.
"It's good," he said of the competition for places.
"Star, Braddy - they push you, which is really good and healthy for the team.
"But not only that, but for myself too, to challenge myself. It will be good."
Asked what he needed to do to win that battle, he said: "Stay healthy, I guess. Stay on top of that. Train hard ... and be good."
Moga, who has stitches on his nose after a head clash with Hunt at training, said pre-season under O'Brien and his new coaching staff had been "challenging but good".
"As you can tell by my face, it's pretty tough," he said smiling.
"It's been pretty tough but the body is feeling good.
"All the boys are switched on, and obviously they want to be better than what we were last year, but hopefully we get a good pre-season under our belt and go from there."
Meanwhile, the Knights said on Tuesday that To'a would have minor finger surgery on Wednesday after a training ground injury but he would be back running with the team next week.