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For Knights skipper Kurt Gidley, Saturday's season-opener against the Penrith Panthers is a huge occasion on a number of levels.

It's Gidley's first official NRL match since injuring his left foot in round 25 against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium last August.  

In fact, the veteran Knight hurt both his feet last season and concedes he has faced plenty of tough times in the rehabilitation room since.  

But now on the back of a strong pre-season, Gidley says he is ready to star in his new hooking role in 2014.  

"I’m excited," Gidley said at training on Monday.

"It has been a long process since I hurt my foot against Brisbane a long time ago and a lot of rehab and looking after myself.

"But I’ve ticked all the right boxes.

"My goal was always round one and I made that. 

"I played a little bit of time in Tamworth (against Canberra), which was good.

"But I’m pretty excited to be back on the park with the boys."

Asked if he was nervous heading into his first match for months, Gidley admitted playing in the Club's final trial against Canberra in Tamworth helped him significantly.  

"Hopefully I got rid of a few nerves in that Tamworth game," he grins.

"I was confident going into that game, but it was good to get through that one.

"It was a relief I suppose and now with another two weeks after that trial, I’m really confident for this week."

Of course injuries to both feet in one season is going to take its toll on anyone, but Gidley reveals how the advice of former players has helped him through the uncertainty. 

"I had spoken to different guys who were still playing and some old boys at the club who have had it done and they’d been back playing after having surgery," he says.

"So I was pretty confident after talking to guys who have had the injury and surgery and been back playing and to their normal ability."

Gidley admits he can still feel pain in his feet after training sessions, but it has got better as the pre-season has progressed.

"I can still feel my right foot which I injured before Origin 1 last year," he explains.

"But the day after training, it’s definitely pulling up better after every session.

"And that’s been the major thing for me over the past month or so, because it had been fine running but pulling up sore the next day.

"But over the past month it has just been improving and improving.

"Out there training today, it doesn’t even play on my mind." 

On the back of two years of injury frustrations, you would expect Gidley to feel the outside pressure to succeed.

But the man himself says he is only worried about his own expectations.   

"Oh probably just my own pressure," he says frankly.

"I mean, I put pressure on myself every week with my performance and what my standards are personally.

"If I can’t reach them, then I’m disappointed in myself.

"Obviously the last two seasons have probably been the toughest to deal with as a player both mentally and physically.

"But look they couldn’t be helped.

"I trained and looked after myself as much as I could off the field, so hopefully it’s a bit of luck.

"Every team needs a bit of luck and I’d certainly like a bit myself."

Gidley is hoping that luck starts this Saturday against the Panthers.