Kurt Gidley to be Knights halfback in 2013

SHAUN DYAS
Last updated 15:10 04/12/2012

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Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett has revealed Kurt Gidley will start the 2013 NRL season at halfback, with the former NSW skipper set to return to training following shoulder surgery.

The versatile Gidley, who can also play fullback, featured in just five matches last year before being sidelined after the round-eight win over Penrith.

The 30-year-old started the season at five-eighth before switching to halfback, but Bennett has already earmarked him for the No.7 jersey for the Knights' season opener against Wests Tigers on March 11.

"He'll definitely play halfback," Bennett said.

"We just need to get him training - he has a slight calf strain at the moment.

"We need to do as much work with him as we can because he hasn't done anything for 12 months.

"Otherwise all is good with him, the shoulder is right and he is ready to go."

Bennett admitted Gidley's absence was a big blow for the Knights last year as a season of high expectation following the appointment of the seven-time premiership-winning coach ended with a disappointing 12th-place finish.

"Kurt was a huge loss for us last year as well. He's really got that attitude that all the top players have got," he said.

"You have either got that quality or you need to learn that quality and, at the moment, a lot of the young players have to learn that quality.

"That's what Willie (Mason) brings, that's what Danny (Buderus) brings and that's what Kurt brings."

With Gidley's absence last year, exciting halfback Tyrone Roberts played 18 games and Bennett said the 21-year-old is still very much a part of his plans, despite Gidley's return.

"Tyrone had a wonderful year for us in many ways," Bennett said.

"He's a young guy who got an opportunity to play NRL on a regular basis.

"You could see this morning that he was a lot more confident about himself.

"He's a long-term project for us, Tyrone. He's a wonderful young player with lots of talent so we don't want to lose him."

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- AAP

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