You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content

Quiz any Knights player about last season's charge to the finals and positive thoughts dominate the conversation.


They recall the excitement of toppling the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Melbourne Storm and the joy their success in turn brought the entire Hunter region.


For skipper Kurt Gidley, though, the memories of last season's amazing finals run are very much bittersweet.


You see, as much as Gidley was happy for his teammates, he also found it extremely difficult sitting on the sidelines with an injured foot.


He remembers hundreds of fans turning up to training sessions during the finals, while he watched on enviously from the glasshouse, the players’ change rooms located in the western corner of their training fields at Wests Mayfield.


The skipper recalls putting on a brave face even though deep inside he was struggling with the fact he wasn't involved in finals footy with his mates.


“It was a really lonely time,” Gidley reflects.


“I was really excited for the boys and the way they were playing at the back-end of the year.


“There was a lot of hype around the town and everyone was getting behind the team.


"But it was also tough knowing that I wouldn’t be able to be a part of it on the field.


"That was a bit disappointing, but I just had to stay positive for the rest of the boys and put on a happy face and make sure I could help out anywhere I could.


"I also had to make sure I was doing the right things in rehab with my foot.”


Flash forward three months and the Knights' training field evokes far better memories for the Club's skipper.


This was especially the case on Monday when Gidley ran for the first time on grass with a series of sprints.


It was a moment of sheer happiness for the 31-year-old, especially after the pain and frustration he has endured in the past two seasons.


“It feels like I’m back,” he enthuses.


“All the rehab stuff is hard work and it’s not a great deal of fun, but it has got to be done to make sure you are doing all the right things for when you come back.


"But when you start running on the field and interact with the team, it does feel like you are a part of it again.


"Because when you are injured, you are in a bit of a rehab crew and it can be a bit of a lonely place."


Gidley now has his sights firmly set on returning in the opening round against the Panthers at Centrebet Stadium on March 8.


“At this stage my goal is round one," he says.


“We’ve got a bit of a plan and a schedule mapped out over the next six to eight weeks.


“I should be right for the opening round, but I’m not sure I’ll play in the last trial game.


“But I’d like to think my fitness and skills will be ready to go by round one and I’m certainly looking forward to that."


Gidley describes the past two seasons of constant injury setbacks as, 'the toughest years' of his life.


As difficult as those injuries have been though, the skipper has drawn on the inspiration of other footballers to rise above and become a stronger person himself.

"I’ve certainly seen some players who have been through some horrific injuries in the past," he says.


"And probably the same injuries over and over, but they’ve managed to bounce back.


"I think it’s a real show of your character how you bounce back and make sure you tick the boxes with your rehab.


"It’s a credit to all the guys that I’ve looked up to who have gone through different injuries.


"I’m in that situation now where I’ve had two season ending injuries two years in row and it’s certainly a test of your character.


"It has been a pretty big test for me, but I’m looking forward to getting back on the field.”


As Gidley knows, anything is better than watching on helplessly from the sidelines.