It was the phone call that ended his hunt for a new club and a whole heap of private heartache.
As the dust settled on a disasterous final round loss to Penrith last season, Knights prop Herman Ese'ese admits his head was all over the place as he contemplated just what his future might hold.
The call from incoming coach Adam O'Brien to his manager ended two or three months of uncertainty.
"It was tough," Ese'ese said.
"I've always wanted to stay here but everything was up in the air last season. Things weren't looking positive at all for me staying here but Adzy [O'Brien] arrived and gave me the reassurance that he wanted me to stay. It was a big relief.
"After the Penrith game, I was just going to have a week off and then look for another club.
"My head was all over the place because I was just thinking 'what am I going to do next season?' I really wanted to stay and even though I was contracted this year, it didn't look good.
"So the call came at just the right time."
So did the change of coach. Ese'ese was struggling for confidence under Nathan Brown and may not have survived if the former coach remained in charge.
There was plenty of talk around the middle of last season the former Kiwi international was headed to the Bulldogs, something the 25-year-old denies.
"I don't think they were even in the picture to be honest despite all the media about it," he said.
"My manager met with them once and I don't know how the word got out there about them but it seemed to escalate from there. I never met with them and never met with anyone to be honest. I just told my manager I wouldn't do anything until the season was done and dusted."
When O'Brien arrived in Newcastle to start work last October not long after the Sydney Roosters grandfinal success, Ese'ese was one of the first players he met with.
"He's got really good footwork and offers a real point of difference to some of our other big guys in the forward pack which is why I wanted him to stay,"O'Brien said.
"He was someone I wanted to work with."
Ese'ese is now confident he can repay the faith and produce the best footy of his career this season after a tough pre-season.
"It's the hardest I've ever trained. We are doing way more wrestle, a lot more speed training - it's been really good," he said.
"Hopefully I can play my best footy under Adzy because I'm getting good vibes off him.
"I've got a lot on the line. This is my last season contracted to the Knights and obviously I love it here. I love the coach and I love the boys, my family is settled so I'm really confident of playing the best footy of my career."
Ese'ese said a new deal won't be his only motivation though.
"I'm not really thinking about a new contract. I just want to play my best under Adsy and play finals footy."
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