Knights coach Adam O'Brien has been shocked by the development of offloaded winger Jacob Kiraz, who scored a hat-trick to help Canterbury to a 24-10 win over Newcastle at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.
Playing just his 10th NRL game, Kiraz - who parted ways with the Knights in the preseason - opened the scoring with a seventh-minute try and then scored again a few minutes later to help Canterbury to a 10-0 lead.
The 20-year-old's second was via a rare winger to winger play.
From an uncaught bomb, Canterbury flyer Josh Addo-Carr found the ball 15 metres out from the try-line and kicked across field for Kiraz, who caught the ball and left Simi Sasagi in his wake as he ran in and scored.
Knights winger Enari Tuala got one back on Kiraz when he scored in 28th minute, running in untouched on the left flank after the Bulldogs got caught short.
But with his side leading 18-4, Kiraz scored his third just four minutes into the second half.
The Lebanon international dived and put the ball down with one hand as his legs and torso stayed mere centimetres above the turf outside the field of play.
"He had a really good day," O'Brien said of Kiraz.
"You're going to have ones that come back and hurt you, and he did that."
Kiraz played nine matches in reserve grade for Newcastle last year, scoring two tries and producing one try-assist, three line-breaks, 17 tackle busts and eight offloads. He averaged 94 run metres and eight tackles per game.
He came to Newcastle after a brief stint with North Queensland, but didn't make his NRL debut until this year.
O'Brien said the Knights let Kiraz go because the club had plenty of outside backs and prioritised keeping Edrick Lee, who is off to the Dolphins next year.
"You had Hymel, Dom, Bradman," he said. "Anyone put in that situation back then would probably want to fit Edrick in the team.
"But good luck to Kiraz, I'm not sour grapes on that.
"If I'm really honest, I didn't foresee him, as quickly, jumping to the levels that he has."
Kiraz, who doubled the amount of tries he had scored in the NRL, said he sought a release from the Knights after feeling in the preseason he wasn't likely to feature in first grade.
"I loved it there and I loved the boys there but ... the opportunity I felt for myself [at Canterbury] was not there [at Newcastle]," he said.
"I have no grudges against them, but at the time I had a gut feeling I wouldn't see [first] grade. I just wanted to get out, start fresh and show what I've got.
"I'm grateful that happened because I'm playing NRL, and that's my dream. And I'm playing for the club I grew up playing with."
Kiraz, from Lidcombe, said bagging a hat-trick against his former club had some extra meaning.
"All the boys knew I came from there, so they were geeing me up a bit," he said.
"It was a good feeling going for three against them, but I think getting three against anyone would have been good."