Paea, who has returned to Hull FC in Super League, joined the Knights on a two-year deal at the start of 2016.

The prop made 15 appearances for Newcastle in first season but only five in his second campaign after being told he could leave the club.

The Knights collected the NRL’s wooden spoon for three years straight from 2015 to 2017.

“It’s definitely been tough,” Paea told Inside Sport.

“You don’t get to pick the times when you’re at a club. My time there was a rebuilding phase and the club was going through a few salary cap and financial bit of strain there. That first year was a tough one and the second year I wasn’t really involved.

“I was told I wasn’t required for the second year, which was pretty heartbreaking. It left me with nowhere to really turn to.”

Newcastle has gone on a massive recruitment spree with the likes of Mitchell Pearce, Connor Watson, Jacob Lillyman, Chris Heighington, Herman Ese’ese, Slade Griffin, Aiden Guerra, Kayln Ponga and Tautau Moga signed.

The 31-year-old will return to Australia next month when his Hull FC side play against St George Illawarra in Sydney.

Paea, who has also played for the Roosters, Dragons and Bulldogs in the NRL, is looking forward to the challenge against his old club.

“It’s an opportunity for us as a team to go over to Oz and test ourselves against one of the top teams over there,” the front-rower said.

“It’s quite special and I think we’ll be benefit from that for the rest of the year.”