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The fitness of Newcastle Knights’ captain Kurt Gidley will be monitored this week to determine his availability for the round two match against the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday.

Coach Rick Stone explained Gidley isn’t expected to train fully until Friday after being ruled out of the weekend’s match due to a minor hamstring complaint.

It was a late change that saw 18-year-old Sione Mata’utia take his place in the season opener.

“If he’s right to play on Friday, he’ll take his place, if not, we’ll probably go the same fullback as we played last week,” Stone told the media on Tuesday.

“With the travel, he has to be pretty good on Friday because obviously the travel takes it out of you, because he has to get moving again when he gets up there and that’s something you have to consider.

“He won’t play unless he’s 100 per cent.

“He was very close last week, but we decided to err on the side of caution.

“With a young quality player in Sione who can come and fill the spot, we’re pretty comfortable he can do the job for us."

Overall, Stone was pleased with the team’s opening conquest and the effort displayed against the New Zealand Warriors. 

“The intent and desire from the team on the weekend was terrific," Stone added.

“The goal-line defense and some of the resolve we showed was really good.

“We are comfortable that that’s a good base to work from.

“We need a bit of continuity and a few games under our belt to get back into the groove."

After the Cowboys’ Round one 28-4 loss to the Sydney Roosters, Stone expects the opposition will be hungry to get their 2015 season campaign back on track.

“They will be stinging a bit,” he said. 

“They won 11 out of 12 games last year, so will be expecting they will come back pretty strong.

“It’ll be tough conditions up there going to North Queensland, which is always a challenge.”

Meanwhile, James McManus and Tyrone Roberts, who received head knocks during Saturday’s game have been cleared to play this weekend.