Gidley gets Smith giddy before NQ clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gidley gets Smith giddy before NQ clash

By Laine Clark 15/06/2008 09:17:06 PM Comments (0)

For the first time since the first round of the NRL, NSW Origin stars Kurt Gidley, Danny Buderus and Steve Simpson will run out together in Newcastle colours on Monday night.

But just one player got Knights coach Brian Smith the most excited before their NRL clash against lowly North Queensland in Townsville.

Smith could not hide his delight at Gidley's return from a fractured cheekbone after the utility emerged unscathed from his comeback match - NSW's record-equalling 30-0 Origin II loss to Queensland.

"Kurt brings a lot to our team, even the Origin and Aussie team," Smith told reporters.

"He sets such a high standard of enthusiasm and involvement it is pretty hard to replace.

"We welcome them all back (from Origin duty) but Kurt certainly brings plenty."

Momentum is already building for utility Gidley to be selected as NSW halfback after Blues No.7 Peter Wallace was injured last Wednesday night.

Smith backed Gidley to press his claims against the Cowboys along with the rest of their NSW contingent, saying it was "tradition" for Newcastle players to back up from Origin duty.

"At this time of year Newcastle have traditionally had their best players away at Origin who have prided themselves on coming back and playing well for their club," he said.

Gidley spent 46 minutes on the field for NSW, being used at five-eighth, hooker and halfback.

Smith said his Origin contingent "bounded" into training for Newcastle and could not wait to tackle a vulnerable Cowboys.

North Queensland have lost six straight - their worst run since 1999.

The Cowboys need to win to keep their mathematical finals chances alive and will pin their hopes on a revitalised Johnathan Thurston.

The North Queensland captain revelled at five-eighth for Queensland but has again been picked in his usual halfback position against the Knights.

He injured his shoulder in Origin II but has been cleared to play Newcastle.

"Everything is fine, he can't wait to play. He's a tough kid - he wants to get out there," Cowboys coach Ian Millward said.

"It (shoulder injury) is nothing structural, it is just bruising."

Millward will mark only his third game at the Cowboys helm after taking over from Graham Murray.

His job has not been helped by injuries to Matt Scott, Steve Southern, Matt Bowen and Justin Smith and suspensions for Luke O'Donnell and Travis Burns.

On paper the Cowboys appear in trouble - and Smith agreed they would approach the game as a chance to "get back on a roll".

However, the Knights mentor said they were wary of the second-last Cowboys who have just three wins in 2008.

"They have been two teams this year. Their track record away is not so good, but when you look at their home record they have had some big wins and some narrow losses," he said.

"Their form has not been so bad there."

The Cowboys have lost by an average of seven in their four home defeats this season - that balloons out to more than 22 in five away losses.

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