Kurt Gidley is the man to save the Knights from the Wooden Spoon. Image courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au
Eels v Knights
Sunday June 29 – 3:05 PM (AEST)
Kurt Gidley is a man of many talents. In a career that has spanned well over a decade, he has played almost every position on the paddock. Starting his career back in 2001 on the wing, he has moved to centre, fullback, five-eighth, halfback and for most of the season he has played at hooker. But with the Newcastle Knights on a seven-game losing streak, Gidley shifted back to halfback to save the Knights sinking ship. The Parramatta Eels know all too well what it is like to be on the end of a horrid season. Claiming the Wooden Spoon two years in a row would shatter anyone’s confidence, but the Eels have become a team others fear, most notably because of their massive winger, Semi Radradra.
The Knights have had another season to forget. Not since 2005 have they had such a horrible start to the season. Back then it was because of the constant injuries to future Immortal Andrew Johns. But this time there are no real excuses. They have had no injuries to key players as of late yet they still can’t seem to string any wins together. Last week was a step in the right direction but they need to back it up on Sunday. With the Sharks victorious on Friday night, a few more losses could see them fall to the bottom of the ladder. David Fa’alogo returns to prop, pushing Korbin Sims to the bench, joined by the return of Kade Snowden from suspension. Tyrone Roberts, Chris Houston and Joseph Tapine make up the rest of an extended bench.
Parramatta is ready to atone for last week’s loss to the Storm. Last week their defence was in shambles. They weren’t sliding with the attack and too many times their outside men were caught flat-footed. Their attack was again rocks and diamonds. They would shift wide but with no one running a straight line, the defence found it too easy to read. Then Jarryd Hayne would produce some magic and over they go. If coach Brad Arthur can get them to do the little things right, the points will come. Lee Mossop is out with a shoulder injury, with Darcy Lussick, Mitch Allgood and Kelepi Tanginoa rounding out an extended bench.
The Knights have very little chance of making the finals this year. They would have to win the rest of their games this season, and with some big games coming up against the Roosters, Rabbitohs and Storm, it seems extremely unlikely. The Eels are sitting 8th in a congested Top 8 and one loss could see them slip as far as 11th. With one team playing for pride and the other to keep their season alive, this one with have a lot of fire behind it.