Is Mann the new Kurt Gidley at the Knights?

Kurt Mann is shaping as the Knights' next Kurt Gidley – a man of many positions.

Newcastle coach Nathan Brown was describing why he was so keen to sign the former Dragons backline utility for 2019, and although he didn't mention Gidley by name, the similarities were evident.

"Blokes who can play five-eighth and fullback can catch and pass. Most of those can play dummy-half to a certain extent," Brown said, as he explains his reasons for wanting to turn Mann into a No.9.

Gidley, who left the Knights in 2015 for Super League's Warrington Wolves, jumps to mind on that count.

"It will be whether you can handle the workload in the middle and whether you're fit enough," Brown said, most likely speaking from experience as he occupied the No.9 jersey at the Dragons for eight years.

"Kurt's already played plenty of middle footy for the Dragons and he likes the defensive load. He's also very fit," he said of Mann.

"So he ticks plenty of boxes. It's a matter of learning one or two basic parts of dummy-half play. We'll keep it nice and simple for him and over a period of time he can develop his game."

Mann's arrival at the Knights' Mayfield West training complex early in January makes it four hookers that Brown is casting his eyes over ahead of trials on February 23 (Dragons) and March 2 (Sharks).

Former Kiwis rake Danny Levi occupied the role over the back-half of the 2018 Telstra Premiership season. The Knights also recruited former Raider and Bulldog Zac Woolford for the 2019 Telstra Premiership and have had Jamie Buhrer training at No.9 during the pre-season.

What we do know with Kurt is that he's always going to be in your 17

Nathan Brown on Knights signing Kurt Mann

"Danny is definitely improving in the areas he needs to work on," Brown said.

"Jamie is really focused on that position; young Woolford is also working hard on his game, and we've just got Kurt in here now.

"That's a position we like to think Kurt can get practice in and be good at. He's still got a lot of work to do but he's got a great attitude and wants to do well.

"Over the next six weeks we'll gauge his development and see where he gets to as a dummy half," Brown said.

"He can definitely get there – it just takes a little time and work."

But will he be there for the Knights round one game against Cronulla at McDonald Jones Stadium on March 15.

"Can he get there by round one? I suppose we don't really know. What we do know with Kurt is that he's always going to be in your 17," the coach said.

Kurt Gidley in action for the Knights in 2011.
Kurt Gidley in action for the Knights in 2011. ©NRL Photos

"That's why it was an easy decision to buy him. At the Dragons he started at fullback, wing, centre and five-eighth and he's played lock.

"He's such an adaptable player – in this day and age of head knocks getting policed even more, he becomes a very valuable member of any squad.

"He will always be in the team and I'd like to think over a period of time his dummy-half game will develop and he'll put plenty of pressure on not only Danny but the other guys in the club playing dummy-half."