Stuart backs Gidley for NSW halfback job - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Stuart backs Gidley for NSW halfback job

By Steve Jancetic 15/04/2008 07:51:38 PM Comments (0)

He's the third-choice No.7 at Newcastle but Test utility Kurt Gidley continues to receive backing from all the right people in his bid to snare the NSW Origin halfback jumper.

Australian coach Ricky Stuart has joined the chorus of supporters calling for Gidley to be handed the job for the Origin opener on May 21, with selectors still struggling for a standout option.

Gidley will on Sunday hold an 80-minute audition against one of his main rivals for the berth - Sydney Roosters teenager Mitchell Pearce - after the Knights' `everywhere man' was named to fill in for the injured Scott Dureau (ankle) at halfback.

Newcastle and NSW skipper Danny Buderus sung Gidley's praises following his standout performance at halfback in the second half of Sunday's loss to Brisbane, and Stuart had little hesitation in putting the 25-year-old's name forward.

"(NSW coach) Craig Bellamy asked me this question five weeks ago and I said Kurt Gidley then," Stuart told Sydney radio station 2KY.

"I like Kurt Gidley as a player.

"I think he's very tough, he doesn't leave a hole in your defensive line, he's not a target and the way he can run the ball at the line with support is something a lot of halfbacks haven't got. A lot of young halfbacks are learning how to do it.

"What I like in a halfback is that when you're side is under the pump he can throw the forwards on his back and say follow me, and that's what he did last week. He got that Newcastle team back in that game against the Broncos."

Given Stuart's ringing endorsement, it would seem Gidley would be a shoe-in to retain his spot as the utility on the bench for the Kangaroos' May 9 Test against New Zealand.

It's a role he filled for the Blues in games one and three of last year's State of Origin series, but said he would love the opportunity to make a bigger impact.

He played just 17 minutes in the game one loss and 26 minutes as the Blues won the dead rubber in Brisbane.

"I play 80 minutes every week at club level, I'm not a big fan of sitting on the bench and watching the game, I like to be in amongst it right from the start," Gidley said.

"Obviously that's the next progression to try and get into the starting line-up.

"(But) you get chosen in those sorts of teams you're prepared play anywhere."

As for the push from Buderus and Stuart, Gidley said: "It's better than getting bagged for the wrong things I suppose, but you've got to back it up on the field.

"(Buderus) said he hoped he didn't put any pressure on me with what he said. I didn't see it actually - but it's always good to have some support from him."

While happy to be given a crack at halfback against the Roosters, Gidley said he realised the move was likely to be a temporary one.

And he played down the significance of the one-on-one battle with Pearce, which will come just two days after another two NSW halfback contenders in Parramatta's Brett Finch and Manly's Matt Orford go head to head at Parramatta Stadium.

"I wouldn't even be playing there if all the boys were right with injury," Gidley said.

"But with Mullos (Jarrod Mullen) being out and Scotty going down on the weekend, I think Smithy's (coach Brian Smith) put me there as the next best option for the team.

"We've had three close losses and if we can really tighten up a few things in defence we can go into the bye with a win under our belt."

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