HE'S waited patiently for the past two years, making the most of any opportunity that has come his way.
But now there is a sense of urgency for Pasami Saulo as he approaches what shapes as a defining season in his NRL career.
The towering Knights front-rower is coming off contract at the end of 2020, and with a partner and two young children to support, he is ready to put his best foot forward and convince new coach Adam O'Brien that he has a long-term future with the club.
"It's my last year, so I have to work hard to earn another year, or hopefully a few more years," the 21-year-old Maitland junior said.
"It's something to work towards, and gives me a bit of motivation.
"Newcastle is my home, and I wouldn't want to leave it."
Saulo is quietly spoken but hopes that his on-field actions speak for themselves this season.
He debuted in the NRL in 2018, just days after his 20th birthday, and has now made six top-grade appearances, all off the bench.
After the departure of James Gavet to Huddersfield in the English Super League, there is a vacancy in Newcastle's engine-room rotation, but there will still be fierce competition for spots, given the presence of Origin middle forwards David Klemmer, Daniel Saifiti and Tim Glasby, and Kiwi international Herman Ese'ese.
Jacob Saifiti and Saulo are probably the next cabs off the rank, but both could leapfrog up the pecking order if they perform strongly in Newcastle's pre-season trials.
"I've just got to work as hard as I can to earn that spot," Saulo said.
"That's the goal.
"I want to be a regular, and a regular for many years. Hopefully I can kick-start it this year and get a roll on."
Saulo says the experience he has gained over the past two seasons ensures he will be better prepared mentally for this campaign.
The most important lesson he has learned, he says, "is to keep a calm head and not overthink things" when he next gets a chance in the top company.
And in terms of his physical preparation, he has never felt fitter or stronger.
"I've put in the work since pre-season started and I'm getting the results," he said.
The 1.90-metre, 103-kilogram tyro does not need to look far for inspiration.
Throughout his junior years, he played with and against Payne Haas, and they packed down alongside each other in the 2016 Australian Schoolboys team.
Haas, who is a year younger than Saulo, is now an Origin and Kangaroos representative and well on his way to becoming a genuine superstar.
* Former NSW police minister and deputy premier Troy Grant has been appointed to the International Rugby League board of directors.
Grant, who was born in Maitland, has a long background in rugby league and has been a regular at Knights' games over the years.