Rejuvenated Knights utility back Wes Naiqama is agonising over his decision to continue his NRL career in Newcastle or return to where he started at the Dragons.
The 28-year-old Fijian Test captain, who joined the Knights from St George Illawarra in 2008 and has since played 65 games for Newcastle, is weighing up a two-year contract extension to remain in the blue-and-red or a more lucrative deal to rejoin the Red V.
Naiqama’s manager, Darryl Mather, said the offer from the defending premiers included a guarantee to play fullback, effectively replacing Newcastle-bound Darius Boyd.
Newcastle cannot assure Naiqama a start at fullback or in the centres because of the arrival of Boyd and return of Timana Tahu, but incoming coach Wayne Bennett has acknowledged his versatility and career-best form this season and wants the Knights to re-sign him.
The Knights upgraded their initial offer and had hoped to announce his retention last Monday, but he said last night that he was undecided and was under no pressure from either club to make up his mind.
Naiqama said the arrival next year of Bennett from the Dragons, and Stone’s decision on Tuesday to remain as Bennett’s assistant, made staying in Newcastle more attractive.
But the Arncliffe Scots junior, who made his NRL debut for St George Illawarra in 2005, has maintained friendships with long-serving Dragons stars Ben Hornby, Mark Gasnier and Matt Cooper and coach-in-waiting Steve Price.