Newcastle Knights captain Kurt Gidley has made the decision to depart the Club at season’s end, signing a one-year contract (with the option of a second year) with the Warrington Wolves in England’s Super League.
A Newcastle local, Gidley made his NRL debut in Round 24 of season 2001 and has played a total of 236 NRL games to date to be the Club’s third most capped player.
Throughout a 15-year career, the utility boasts an impressive representative resume including 12 appearances for NSW Origin and 12 for Australia.
“I have been lucky, to grow up in Newcastle, to have my family’s support and to play for this great Club,” Gidley explained.
“I played at West Newcastle from seven years of age and then made the transition at 17 to play for the Knights, which was directly across from where I trained.
“I struggled to make the Knights juniors but I think that made me just work harder.
“So to play in my hometown as long as I have, to play alongside my eldest brother, have my family support at home and away games, as well as captain the club has just been a huge honour.”
The decision is one of mixed emotions for the 32-year-old.
“I have felt sad about leaving, I have felt excited about a new challenge but I am mostly relieved that I have reached the stage of making this decision,” Gidley said.
“It was a tough one. Newcastle people have been great; they are very supportive, both in good times and in bad.
“I appreciate the support I have had, and the way the town supports the team.”
Gidley, who didn’t want to consider playing for a rival NRL club, admits two major factors were behind his decision.
“I have been thinking about this for over 12 months and I knew it had to come to an end at some stage,” Gidley added.
“I spoke to (CEO and brother) Matt (Gidley) before the season kicked off and I let him know that it was looking like it was going to be my last year.
“There were plenty of young players coming off contracts, who have come through our juniors like Sione (Mata’utia), Chanel (Mata’utia), Pat (Mata’utia), as well as Dane (Gagai) who has been a great buy for the Club.
“I really wanted to see those types of players re-sign and I would have been disappointed to see them go to another Club.
“Then there is still Jake (Mamo) who hopefully can be re-signed as well. So that was a factor, I didn’t want to keep out some young talented players, who I love watch playing myself.
“Another factor was I have had a great career, it has been a pretty long career, and I am looking forward to the change of going over to England, so too is my family.”
While the challenge of playing in the English Super League excites Gidley, his focus remains on finishing the season well at the Knights.
“I am still fit and healthy, I love everything about rugby league and team sport and playing overseas is going to be to a new challenge,” he said.
“Everything I have done in my career so far, I am so proud and privileged to do what I have done but I will need to earn the respect of teammates and opponents over that way when the time comes.
“So while I have been very lucky and I am very thankful for the whole experience, I must say it isn’t over here yet. I wanted to get this news out there and move on from it.
“From now, every training session and every game is a step closer towards my last one in the Newcastle Knights jersey and I want to make the most of it all.”
Players who inspired Kurt:
Andrew Johns – Joey took me under his wing, he would take me down to local parks on our days off of training and teach me things. I will never forget him taking time out to improve me as a player.
Danny Buderus – Danny was a great teammate of mine and a real leader. He was someone who I looked up to as a potential leader of the club.
Matt Gidley – Playing with my brother in first grade was a dream come true. You play backyard footy as a kid so to play first grade with him for a fair chunk of my career was amazing. I really looked up to my brother and still do.
Kurt's memorable moment:
As far as moments, there have been different golden point moments and memorable games but the most recent one was against Melbourne last year where I kicked that goal after the siren. This isn’t about me kicking the goal; it was the moment after that where I think 10 to 12 teammates tackled me to the ground. I didn’t feel a thing at that stage. That was one of the most exhilarating feelings I have had in footy, just that embrace and reaction of my teammates.
Newcastle Knights: 236 games (to date)
Club tries: 75
NSW Origin: 12 games
Australia: 12 games
Country NSW: 3 games
PM’s XIII: 3 games
NRL All Stars: 2 games