Simpson eyeing big season at Knights - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Simpson eyeing big season at Knights

By Steve Jancetic 18/02/2009 07:29:49 PM Comments (0)

Things wouldn't have to reach any great heights for season 2009 to be an improvement on last year for Newcastle veteran Steve Simpson.

Heck, making it to the halftime break of the Knights' round one NRL clash against Gold Coast would be an upgrade.

Simpson lasted just 11 minutes in the corresponding game last year before a medial ligament injury sidelined him for nine weeks.

Things didn't really improve once he returned to the field either with Simpson dumped after a disappointing showing in NSW's Origin II loss to Queensland.

Niggling injuries then hampered his late season form with the Knights as they missed the finals by just one win.

"I missed nine weeks there with the medial and it sort of just put a dampener on the year," Simpson said.

"I only lasted the first ten minutes of the first game and it was pretty disappointing, it was just one of those years I suppose, nothing really went right."

And while Simpson remains optimistic about a better 2009, one man who is almost certain that things will improve is coach Brian Smith.

Heading into his third season at the club, Smith said he had never seen Simpson, a veteran of 12 Origins and seven Tests, look better.

"I haven't seen all of Steve Simpson's pre-seasons and I assume he had some real good ones when he was young, but if it's not his best, it's been way better than what he's been able to get the last few seasons I've been here," Smith said.

"His running and the skills aspects of his preparation that he's been able to focus on, I just can't wait to see him play.

"(He's doing) stuff I haven't seen him do before - I can't really remember how much of that he had in him at the beginning of his career, he's been absolutely outstanding."

After shuffling between the front row and second row last year, Smith said he would use Simpson in the backrow as much as possible this season.

And that was music to the ears of the 29-year-old.

"I enjoy playing out there," Simpson said.

"I don't mind filling in the front row when I'm needed, but I prefer playing on the edge of the ruck, getting out a bit wider."

After playing in last weekend's series of trials against Newcastle club sides, Simpson will sit out this Saturday's trip to Melbourne to take on the Storm.

But he said he would be a definite starter when the Knights wrap up their pre-season campaign against Cronulla on February 28 in Cessnock.

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