Stone bullish ahead of Panthers clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Stone bullish ahead of Panthers clash

Ian McCullough 17/06/2011 06:39:45 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle coach Rick Stone says Kurt Gidley and Akuila Uate will start against Penrith on Saturday after the NSW pair came through Wednesday's State of Origin clash unscathed.

Uate and Gidley produced impressive performances in the Blues' 18-8 win, and Stone said his side will go into the game with the Panthers with confidence boosted despite their golden point defeat against Wests Tigers in their last encounter.

"We played well that night and should have won the game, but having the bye last week helped us as we were carrying a few niggles, but aside from Jarrod Mullen and James McManus, who picked up a leg injury against the Tigers, we will be as in the program," Stone told AAP.

"Gids and Aku have returned to us in good shape, they haven't trained and we have basically had them doing 48 hours of recovery, but they will take place in the team."

Stone was pleased with the performance of the pair against the Maroons and believes the Knights can only benefit from their good form.

"I thought they were great, Gids showed some real composure when he came on at hooker and Aku, every time he gets opportunity at the level he seems to grab it," Stone said.

"I thought he was good in game one and he was a little bit better in game two, he will take confidence from that, the last time he played Origin he had a big game against Parramatta when he came back to us.

"They proved their class at that level and if they can do that, then they can do it for us when they come back, so we were all very happy for them."

Uate was the best winger on the field at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday, causing Queensland plenty of problems with his aggressive running, but Stone said there is still plenty more to come from the Fiji-born flyer.

"Aku is learning and working hard, not everything comes naturally to him, a lot of things do, but the things that don't he works hard on and has the world at his feet but he knows he has to keep improving," he said.

"He has worked hard to get where he is now and will only get better the more he plays."

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