Gidley out for rest of season
"He's keen, but he won't be playing - you can take that as a definite" ... Knights coach Wayne Bennett on Kurt Gidley's chances of making a return before the end of the season. Photo: Darren Pateman
Newcastle captain Kurt Gidley will not play again until next year even if the Knights win seven games in a row and make the grand final, coach Wayne Bennett said.
Gidley underwent reconstructive shoulder surgery after dislocating his left shoulder in Newcastle's 34-14 victory over Penrith on April 30, just his fifth game this year, and he was ruled out for the rest of the season.
The sight of the 30-year-old former NSW skipper moving freely and increasing his workload at training in recent weeks raised hopes of an early return, but Bennett ended those yesterday.
''That's great, and he's keen, but he won't be playing - you can take that as a definite,'' Bennett said after training.
''He won't even be right if we make the grand final. It's a long-term injury he's got there and we want him next year.''
Meanwhile, Bennett was not surprised at the powerful impact and positive influence former NSW and Australian enforcer Willie Mason has had since joining the Knights in April. ''I knew what I was getting when I made the decision. I've worked with him in Australian teams, so I know what he brings,'' he said. ''We had other players here and were trying to make decisions on who could get the job done and who couldn't … and our form's turned around when I worked out who could get the job done.''
Bennett was confident the 32-year-old pack leader would extend his stay at the Knights for another two years, which would almost certainly see out the 2004 Churchill Medallist's career.
''Willie will re-sign. That will be done. It's just we haven't put pen to paper and really haven't discussed a lot of terms but it will happen,'' Bennett said. ''He's been wonderful and he's what we needed … and there's no reason why he won't stay here.''
Meanwhile, Former New Zealand Test centre Junior Sa'u will reportedly be released from the final year of his two-year contract with the Knights at the end of the season to join Melbourne, despite interest from Cronulla as part of a deal to offset the loss of Jeremy Smith to Newcastle.