THE chance to prove himself in the NRL before it was too late was the catalyst for former Raiders halfback Michael Dobson joining the Knights.
Dobson and another former Raider, hooker Travis Waddell, are set to play key roles for Newcastle in Sunday’s round-two games against the Raiders at Hunter Stadium.
Dobson will wear the No.7 jersey and Waddell is likely to be on the bench to relieve Kurt Gidley.
After he established himself as one of the premier playmakers in the UK, Dobson signed a one-year deal with the Knights. He had already played 20 games with the Raiders in 2007-08.
An injury to first-choice half Jarrod Mullen opened the door for Dobson, 27, to take on a more substantial role at the Knights after his stint in the UK with Hull Kingston Rovers.
‘‘I wanted to come to the NRL while I was still young enough to give it a good crack, and Newcastle gave me the best opportunity for that,’’ Dobson said.
‘‘I had a great time over in England but 5 years is a long time away.
‘‘I played the Raiders in the trial. I had some good memories from when I was there but it’s just another game.’’
Dobson grew up in Junee, Riverina, and completed his schooling at Erindale College while he advanced through the Raiders’ junior system.
He played 18 games in his rookie season but was limited to just two appearances the next year as he struggled for selection ahead of Terry Campese and Todd Carney.
‘‘I had fallen behind Toddy and Campo, who were obviously great halves, and I wanted more of an opportunity,’’ Dobson said.
Former Raiders captain Clinton Schifcoske says Dobson will relish the extra responsibility.
‘‘He’s more of an organising halfback, which is what they’re probably going to need this weekend, Newcastle,’’ he said.
‘‘That’s when he plays at his best because that’s what he did at Hull KR. Everything revolved around him.’’
Schifcoske described Dobson as ‘‘one of the top two or three halfbacks’’ in the Super League who enjoyed a challenge.
Waddell was a part of Canberra’s premiership-winning under-20s team in 2008 alongside Josh Dugan, Shaun Fensom and Jarrod Croker.
RETURNING: Michael Dobson plays his former club on Sunday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll