Gidley-Mullen back together again - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gidley-Mullen back together again

Steve Jancetic 02/04/2011 12:00:25 PM Comments (0)

Having taken care of business off the field, Newcastle will look to do the same on it with coach Rick Stone fielding his most potent attacking unit against reigning premiers St George Illawarra on Sunday.

Riding on a wave of emotion following Thursday's stunning acceptance of Nathan Tinkler's takeover bid, the Knights return for their first home game of the season before what is likely to be a full house at the redeveloped Ausgrid Stadium.

And while injury and circumstance may have forced his hand, Stone has brought together the Knights' most dynamic players - reuniting skipper Kurt Gidley and Jarrod Mullen in the halves in a bid to unlock the toughest defence in the league.

"Kurt and Mullo are a bit excited about playing in the halves again - they finished off the season pretty strongly that way last year and it gives us a bit of attacking strike," Stone said.

"Kurt gets his hands on the ball a bit more and as one of our better attacking players it's only going to be beneficial for us."

Gidley and Mullen played together in the halves in four of the Knights' final five games last season - the pair combining for four wins with their only loss coming against the Dragons in round 25.

All things being equal, Gidley would most likely be returning from a back injury with the No.1 on his back, but an ankle injury to rookie pivot Beau Henry has denied the impressive youngster a chance to line up against his former club.

Henry's injury and the unavailability of back-up fullback Shannon McDonnell has caused something of a reshuffle, with Wes Naiqama moving from the centres to fullback and veteran Adam MacDougall coming into the centres for his first game of 2011.

The combination has a balanced look to it, with Stone hoping to see the benefits at both ends of the field.

"Kurt adds a little bit in defence when he plays in the halves - he defends in the front line ... for the foreseeable future I think Kurt and Mullo, touchwood, are going to be our halves," Stone said.

"I think they'll strike up a pretty good combination and Wes has been pretty consistent and probably deserves his chance (at fullback) and we get Adam MacDougall back - that's another bonus for us, it gives us a bit of strike there on the edge."

Stone has also gone with a monster pack with young front rower Joel Edwards named at lock, the Knights targeting a potentially vulnerable Dragons forward group which is certainly down on star power.

Dragons backrower Ben Creagh is expected to play despite suffering a depressed vertebrae in last week's win over the Warriors, while the Knights will asses an MRI scan on Richie Fa'aoso before giving him the all clear to play after last week's concussion.

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