It will be the end of an era at the Newcastle Knights, with club stalwart Kurt Gidley to depart at season’s end.
Involved with the club for such a long time, Gidley will take up a one-year deal with English Super League side, the Warrington Wolves, with an option for a second season.
Making his debut 14 years ago in Rd 24 of 2001, Gidley is to date, the third most capped Newcastle Knights player with 236 games to his name.
The veteran utility has had the honour of playing for both NSW and Australia throughout his career and is grateful to the club for the support he has been provided with over the years.
â€œI have been lucky, to grow up in Newcastle, to have my familyâ€™s support and to play for this great Club,â€ Gidley explained.
â€œI played at West Newcastle from seven years of age and then made the transition at 17 to play for the Knights, which was directly across from where I trained.
â€œI struggled to make the Knights juniors but I think that made me just work harder.
â€œSo to play in my hometown as long as I have, to play alongside my eldest brother, have my family support at home and away games, as well as captain the club has just been a huge honour.â€
Whilst he is sad that he has to leave the club he grew up with and loves, Gidley knows that the time is right for a new challenge.
â€œI have felt sad about leaving, I have felt excited about a new challenge but I am mostly relieved that I have reached the stage of making this decision,â€ Gidley said.
â€œIt was a tough one. Newcastle people have been great; they are very supportive, both in good times and in bad.
â€œI appreciate the support I have had, and the way the town supports the team.â€
Playing against the Knights would have been too hard to do, so the decision to move overseas was an easy one. Knowing that talented players were coming through the ranks, he knew it was time to let them shine as players.
â€œI have been thinking about this for over 12 months and I knew it had to come to an end at some stage,â€ Gidley added.
â€œI spoke to (CEO and brother) Matt (Gidley) before the season kicked off and I let him know that it was looking like it was going to be my last year.
â€œThere were plenty of young players coming off contracts, who have come through our juniors like Sione (Mataâ€™utia), Chanel (Mataâ€™utia), Pat (Mataâ€™utia), as well as Dane (Gagai) who has been a great buy for the Club.
The decision might be made but the focus will be on nothing but season 2015 with the club he loves.
â€œI am still fit and healthy, I love everything about rugby league and team sport and playing overseas is going to be to a new challenge,â€ he said.
â€œEverything I have done in my career so far, I am so proud and privileged to do what I have done but I will need to earn the respect of teammates and opponents over that way when the time comes.
â€œSo while I have been very lucky and I am very thankful for the whole experience, I must say it isnâ€™t over here yet. I wanted to get this news out there and move on from it.
â€œFrom now, every training session and every game is a step closer towards my last one in the Newcastle Knights jersey and I want to make the most of it all.â€