Jamal Fogarty will run out for Gold Coast on Friday night hoping to play a dominant role in a fifth straight win for the Titans as the NRL's big improvers strive to hand the Knights a final round loss before the play-offs.
But it could have been so different.
Well before he signed for a second stint with the Titans this season, the 26-year-old playmaker was on the radar of the Knights late last year after starring for the Burleigh Bears in their Queensland Cup grandfinal win over Wynnum Manly and picking up the Petro Civoniceva Medal as the best player in the competition.
So much so, head of recruitment Alex McKinnon brought Fogarty down to Newcastle for talks and a look around the club's headquarters at Mayfield just prior to the start of pre-season training last November.
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Not only was McKinnon an admirer, new Knights development coach Eric Smith, who had coached against Fogarty in the Queensland Cup and had seen him in action plenty of times, was also a fan.
"We were definitely keen on him and Jamal is a champion guy," McKinnon said.
"At the end of the day, he was the halfback playing in the winning side on grandfinal day in the Q Cup and we knew he could play.
"Eric was coach of Sunny Coast last season in that competition and he had plenty of looks at him and really liked him as well."
So what swayed the club in deciding not to bring him to Newcastle fulltime?
"In the end, we probably just decided to give Adam the opportunity to see the players we already had here at the club to be honest," McKinnon said.
"Adam had only been in the job for about a week when it was happening. We obviously had Phoenix [Crossland] and Mason [Lino], Kurt [Mann], Connor [Watson] was playing a bit of six last year - all those guys.
"We hadn't given those guys the opportunity to train and present what they've got in front of Adam so that was why we didn't pursue it when it was time to make a call.
"If we'd have signed Jamal, we would have been buying him over the top of some guys that were already here."
As it turned out given Newcastle's injury woes, Fogarty may have proved a handy acquisition.
Instead, he linked with the Titans on a two year deal just prior to the start of the 2020 season after previously having played with the club back in 2017. And he has formed a formidable halves combination with Ash Taylor which is certain to throw plenty of questions Newcastle's way in the final round clash.
The Titans have not only won their past four matches, they have won their past four games against the Knights on the Gold Coast.
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