Hard-working Knights prop Josh King says the premiership shutdown has left his NRL future under a cloud but he is not about to throw in the towel without fighting to save his career at the club.
King is one of eight players currently in limbo with their contracts up at the end of the season and no guarantees of a new deal for 2021. Player negotiations have effectively been put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic and uncertainty surrounding what the salary cap will look like moving forward.
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Adding to King's concerns is the 24-year-old Singleton junior, who has featured in 53 NRL games over the past four seasons after debuting in 2016, may not get the chance to push his claims for a contract extension even if the NRL premiership gets back up and running.
He did not feature in the Knights' top 17 for the opening two rounds prior to the shutdown and the second tier NSW Cup competition has already been abandoned for the year, robbing him of the chance to gain match fitness and press his claims.
"It's the final year of my NRL contract and with all this going on, it's put me in a bit of a hard spot because I'm not able to showcase myself," he said.
"I had some setbacks in the pre-season with my personal health that put me out for a few weeks here and there and coming off the back of an interrupted pre-season, I really wanted to aim up during the year and push as hard as I could to earn a spot in the top 17.
"That's sort of all been put on hold now and my future is very uncertain with the times as they are at the moment."
King said when and if the premiership resumes, the training paddock will be where he will need to impress coach Adam O'Brien, his coaching staff and teammates.
"With them abandoning the Cup comp, the only way you can showcase yourself is at training and with a lot of guys having very good pre-seasons and the way we started the comp, it's going to be tough to break into that 17," he said. "But I'll be giving it my absolute best.
"The best thing I can do is just be positive and go to training every day with a good attitude when we get back and give absolutely everything I've got and really show what it means to me to be a Knights player.
"As hard a pill as it is to swallow, the fact we are not playing is not something I can control.
"If I stress about it too much, it doesn't do me any good. But what I can control is my attitude and my effort and desire when I'm training.
"I want to make sure I do everything I can now to be in the best shape I can be physically so that if and when the comp kicks off again, I can show I'm ready and raring to go when I'm needed."
King said he and teammates have been training hard and been in constant contact during the isolation period and "it certainly doesn't feel like an off-season".
"The club helped us out with training programs and gave us gym gear so I've got a cardio machine, some weights and bar bells out in the shed so most days, I've been doing stuff along those lines," he said of his training regime.
"Three or four times a week, we have been trying to pair up a bit with a few of the boys for a running session at the park. We have had some remote video sessions and been doing pilates so we are still training every day so it doesn't feel too far removed from what we are used to.
"They have given us plenty of stuff to keep the mind ticking over so you don't go insane and all the boys are keeping in touch which is good. We are still talking footy, still training so it certainly doesn't feel like it's the off-season, that's for sure."
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