KNIGHTS coach Adam O'Brien did not need to ask Aidan Guerra twice if he would like to be involved in this year's NRL Nines tournament in Perth.
For starters, after three gruelling months of pre-season training, Guerra is excited about the prospect of some full-on competition, whatever the format.
Moreover, the 31-year-old back-rower has fond memories of his two previous Nines campaigns with Sydney Roosters, in particular in 2017 when they won the title.
"The Nines definitely represents the end of pre-season and the start of football season," Guerra told the Newcastle Herald.
"Everyone anticipates it, and as a carnival I've played in it twice before and it's good fun. It's a different style of football, a different brand, but you get to measure yourself against the other clubs and it's a good way to start the season."
Guerra and utility Kurt Mann will co-captain Newcastle at this year's tournament, to be played for the first time in Perth, starting on Friday week.
They are expected to be accompanied by a host of up-and-comers and fringe first-graders, with O'Brien and every other coach entitled to be wary about risking key players at such an early point in proceedings.
Guerra said that from his experience, the secret to doing well in Nines was cashing in on every chance to put points on the board.
"The games go so fast that if you miss an opportunity, either through error or a bad read, you might not get a chance to make that up,'' he said.
Guerra said the Knights had not specifically started preparing for the Nines but a number of ball-work drills they used at training would "stand us in good stead".
"That hasn't been a major focus," he said. "We travel to Perth a few days before the carnival begins, and I'm sure we'll do a little bit more work on it then."
Having won a grand final with the Roosters in 2013 and State of Origin series with Queensland, Guerra also has fond memories of clinching the Nines silverware in 2017.
"We went over there with a bit of a squad like this one [at Newcastle]," he said.
"It was a very young squad, quite inexperienced at NRL level, but we did the little things right, like controlling the ball and taking our chances. Hopefully we can do that this year with the Knights."
The Knights will wear a one-off jersey in Perth featuring artwork by Mitch Revs.
Guerra will start the 11th season of his NRL career on 190 top-grade games and could rack up his double ton against the Roosters at the SCG on May 14.