Kurt Gidley gets Newcastle Knights hooker role

ADRIAN WARREN
Last updated 06:58 08/01/2014

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Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett has confirmed utility Kurt Gidley will fill the hooking role vacated by club legend Danny Buderus and is confident the injury-prone star will be fit for the start of the NRL season.

Gidley missed the latter part of the Knights' 2013 campaign after suffering an ankle injury in the penultimate round of the NRL season in September.

"We're all confident he'll start the season," Bennett said at the Knights' first session of the new year on Friday.

One of the game's great utilities, 31-year-old NSW and Australian representative Gidley can also play five-eighth, fullback and halfback.

Bennett confirmed he had earmarked Gidley for the No.9 jersey, with Travis Waddell and Adam Clydsdale also in contention for the position.

Gidley played just 19 games in the past two seasons during which he suffered shoulder, foot and ankle problems.

"Kurt is a wonderful player, experienced and we need him to play for us this year," Bennett said.

"But through no fault of anybody's we haven't seen enough of him the last two seasons.

"Lets hope we can get a good year out of him, because the club needs him, he's a valuable player."

Most of Newcastle's World Cup representatives trained on Friday, though Darius Boyd and Dave Fa'alogo won't return for another 10 days.

While Bennett supported next month's Nines tournament in Auckland, he stressed he wouldn't be rushing Boyd back into action.

"Darius will only be back in two or three weeks of training ... we may not play him (in the Nines)," Bennett said.

"Then there's guys recovering from injuries - we won't risk them, but we'll put a good team together, the best team we can."

Bennett was amused by the news league legend and his assistant coach at the Indigenous All Stars, Brad Fittler, could be participating in the Nines.

Fittler, 41, confirmed on the Nine Network on Friday he wanted to turn out for the Roosters, though he still requires the approval of the NRL.

"I woke up and thought I had a New Year's hangover for a start," teetotaller Bennett joked.

"Then I thought maybe I'm just a bit seedy today and then I thought a little bit more about it, and I thought he (Fittler) would nearly fit into our recruitment plans here, because we like those older players.

"He is probably a little bit young for us yet. Another year or two on him and I think we could probably bring him here to the Knights."

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