Hours away from taking on the New Zealand Warriors, Newcastle Knights centre Dane Gagai has opened up on the two most challenging moments of his NRL career.

As revealed by Gagai, these two moments were him being sacked by the Brisbane Broncos in 2011 and him being axed by the Queensland Maroons more than ten years later in the 2023 State of Origin series.

Making his NRL debut in 2011, Gagai was meant to be the future of the Broncos backline, but less than a year into his first season, his contract would be torn up by Anthony Griffin.

The sacking came from poor discipline and the 267 NRL gamer turning up to several training sessions late.

“That was a real kick in the guts,” Gagai told News Corp about being sacked from the club.

“I remember it clear as day. I had an absolute blinder in a Queensland Cup game and I got called into the office (by Griffin).

“I was thinking I'm getting called back into the NRL team and then they told me I was being let go.

“It rattled me, but when things like that happen, it puts a little fire in your belly and you want to prove a point."

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 22: Dane Gagai of the Maroons scores a try during game two of the State Of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on June 22, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

After being sacked by the Broncos in 2011, Gagai would be axed once again more than ten years later, but this time, it would be from the Queensland Maroons team during this year's State of Origin series.

A mainstay of the representative backline for seven years and 22 games, Gagai and club teammate Kalyn Ponga were dropped for this year's series in favour of Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Reece Walsh due to poor form.

In what was breaking news at the time, no one expected the 32-year-old to be sensationally dropped from the representative arena by Billy Slater.

“Missing the Origin team was the toughest time of my footy career,” Gagai told News Corp ahead of the game against the Warriors.

“Getting that phone (call) from Billy was really hard to take. Me and Billy had an honest chat.

“It wasn't easy for Billy to make that phone call either, because he helped get me my opportunity for my Origin debut in game three of 2015.

“Billy ruled himself out with a shoulder injury and he presented me with my debut jersey. I understood it wasn't easy for him either (dropping Gagai), but you have to put the team first.

“Billy picked the best team in his eyes and as a proud Queenslander, I will always support Queensland. It was a tough moment but I had to move on and not let it affect my season with the Knights.

“As disappointing as it was, it gave me a point to prove and it gave me more motivation to show that I was still capable of playing good footy. That's definitely motivated me for the back end of the season.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 24: Dane Gagai (L) and Josh Papalii (R) of the Maroons look dejected at fulltime during game two of the State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium on June 24, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The outside back also credited Wayne Bennett for helping him after he was sacked by Anthony Griffin from the Brisbane Broncos. Bennett would coach him at the Knights between 2012-2014 and again from 2019-2021 at the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

“When the Broncos let me go, I didn't know where I was going to go," Gagai added.

“At the time, I had a second hand BMW and I met Wayne Bennett for a chat.

“I had all my bags in there because I didn't have a place I was staying at. I had a dining chair in the front seat.

“Wayne looked at my car and he said, “Dane, you are the first bloke I have seen turn a BMW into a motorhome'.

“I followed him to Newcastle in 2012 and the rest is history.”