Newcastle Knights’ forward Chris Houston acknowledges there’s plenty at stake this weekend when the team travel to Manly, most importantly it’s about getting the two-points after a lean month.
But added to that, Houston and his teammates are eager to make captain Kurt Gidley’s final year at the Club a memorable one following his announcement on Tuesday he’d be departing at season’s end.
Houston has played alongside the Club veteran since joining Knights in 2008 and is undoubtedly one of his closest mates.
“We were happy for him to have his future settled. Personally I’m going to miss him at the Club, but I’m happy for him and his family that they’ve made that decision,” Houston said on Thursday.
“I know he’s looking forward to the move at the end of the year.”
While their skipper’s impending departure won’t occupy the side’s sole attention, his teammates will treasure the final opportunities to play alongside the respected leader.
“We’re not going in saying, ‘we’re going to win it for Kurt’, but no doubt it’s probably in the back of blokes’ minds drawing closer towards the end,” Houston added.
“We have to try to make these last 20 or so rounds memorable for him.
“Every game is getting closer to his last with the Club and we just want to make them good memories.”
After returning from the break, Houston has detected a buzz around training, which saw more than a dozen Knights take part in representative matches.
“I think the week off came at a good time for us after that poor month,” he said.
He believes those coming off the Representative Round have returned to Knights HQ with added enthusiasm and passion.
“Especially the Country boys, they’ve come back with a bit of confidence. We put in a good session today,” Houston said.
“We’ve had a pretty solid week with training and the boys are in good spirits."
Another highlight this round will be the return of second rower Beau Scott from injury.
“He’s a professional. He plays and trains hard. He’s lifted us since he’s been back from his injury,” Houston said.
“It will good to have him out there on Sunday.”
The positive atmosphere around camp bodes well for the Knights’ looming encounter with a challenging opponent in Manly.
“We have a good game plan I think for Manly and we just have to execute it now,” he said.
After a below par start to the season, Manly has gathered momentum after a Round 8 two-point victory over NRL heavyweights, the Melbourne Storm.
“You don’t want to be playing a team that’s lost a few, but in saying that, they’ve obviously have a bit of confidence out of that Melbourne game as well,” he said.
"Manly have quality players. I think Jamie Lyon is back this week, their captain.
“They are going to be hard to beat, but it’s time for us to get fair dinkum with our season as well.
“We are hoping we can turn around our season this week.”