newcastle knights cronulla sharks NRL round 19 2008 toyota parkHe’s been doing everything for Newcastle except wash the uniforms and hose out the sheds at Energy Australia Stadium. Livewire full-back, hooker and half-back, Kurt Gidley gets handed even more work for the crucial showdown with Cronulla this weekend – the important role of skippering the ever capable Knights outfit.

Gidley gets to run the shots at skipper for this Saturdays NRL clash after previous captain Steve Simpson has had to pull out due to injury.

For Gidley, it’s third time lucky. With Danny Buderus handing over the captaincy to Simpson, now Simpson to Gidley after more injury woes for the Knights.

Coach Brian Smith believes the extra roles shouldn’t hamper Gidley too much, however the prospect of taking two points away from the under pressure Sharks at Toyota Stadium will be a mammoth task for the traveling Knights unit.

In addition to Simpson and Buderus being out of action, old stager Adam MacDougall was also unable to recover from a calf strain, which sees Marvin Karawana and Mark Taufua move into the side – giving the Knights some young blood.

The younger Knights side means Kurt Gidley will more than likely have to try and reproduce his outstanding effort from last weekend, when the Test utility played full-back in defence and interchanged between hooker and half-back in attack to almost single-handedly carry the Knights to an upset victory over Penrith. Topping it off, Gidley was liaising with referee Gavin Badger most of the match as the Knights copped a flogging in the penalty department.

Newcastle boss Brian Smith said Gidley would continue to pop up in various positions against the Sharks.

“You could ask me that question for as long as Kurt continues to play and I continue to coach him because that’s what he’s been doing pretty much since I’ve been here,” Smith said.

“He’s had a very loose role in attack, he’s been able to do what he wants.

“If anything he’s actually tied down a bit while doing what we asked of him last week because he’s actually got to go to dummy half quite a bit.”

Any chance the Knights had of catching the Sharks off guard were squandered in Cronulla’s 34-6 hammering at the hands of Manly last weekend.

The heavy loss took away Cronullas top ranking on the NRL ladder and sparked questions about another end of season collapse, but Sharks prop Ben Ross said the nature of the heavy defeat had given his side the wake-up call it needed.

“It hurts, I’m still filthy, I can’t wait to (play again)” Ross said.

“My missus hates me losing because she has to then put up with it all week.

“Manly produced semi-final football and we’ve got a fair few guys who just weren’t used to that. Manly produced an 80 minute effort and showed they could play for the whole 80.

“We’ve produced it in spurts, we’ve shown we can play 40, 60, even 70 minutes, it’s probably those 10 minutes that the boys are lacking, but that will come with experience.”

Of the prospect of another late season fade-out, Ross said: “Look at the Roosters, they lost but no-one’s talking about them choking, they’re on the same amount of points as us.

“A loss is a loss, it’s how you come back from it and how you combat it, it was uncharacteristic of the way we’ve been playing.”

Cronulla hooker Isaac De Gois, who will join Newcastle next season, is a confirmed starter after overcoming a rib complaint.

By ricky

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