A PHONE call from master coach Wayne Bennett sealed the deal for Newcastle Knights' new recruit Matt Minto.
The Rockhampton-raised Minto inked a one-year deal with the Knights last week before joining the club for the 2014 NRL pre-season yesterday.
Based in Mackay for the past two years, Minto was considering a move north to do another pre-season with the Cowboys, but was easily persuaded by Knights coach Bennett.
"He wasn't too sure what he wanted to do but after he got off the phone from speaking with Wayne Bennett, he turned around and said 'that's where I want to be'," his father Paul Minto said.
Minto arrived in Newcastle last Friday and it wasn't long before he was introduced to the seven-time premiership-winning coach.
"He picked me up the day I got here from where I'm staying and took me out for breakfast," Minto said.
"The first thing he asked me was when my family was moving down.
"It's been really good and it makes you feel good. He seems like he's interested in everything, not just your footy."
Minto will be joined in Newcastle by his partner Carolyn and three-year-old daughter Lila.
Starring for the Mackay Cutters in their Intrust Super Cup premiership-winning season, Minto caught the eye of not only Newcastle club, but also the North Queensland Cowboys and Wests Tigers.
After deciding on the Knights, Minto will now lock horns with fellow new recruit Michael Dobson for the opportunity to partner former New South Wales halfback Jarrod Mullen in the halves.
Knights captain Kurt Gidley has had a string of injuries in recent years and with incumbent Knights halfback Tyrone Roberts expected to move into the dummy half role in place of the retired Danny Buderus, there was on opening in the halves.
"What made me come down here instead of staying at the Cowboys was the fact that Danny Buderus is gone now and they're looking at playing Tyrone Roberts at hooker," Minto said.
"With one of the halves from this year playing at hooker, I thought there would be an opportunity down here."
Minto said Dobson, ex-New Zealand Warriors prop Russell Packer and Knights regulars Dane Gagai and Alex McKinnon were getting a jump on the rest of the squad ahead of next Wednesday's official start.
"We had a tough session this morning," Minto said.
"Up at the Cowboys, they sort of eased us into it.
"But that didn't happen today, they just flogged us this morning."