THIS was one crash-tackle Kurt Gidley didn’t see coming.
In Tamworth for tonight’s NRL trial between the Newcastle Knights and Canberra Raiders, the former NSW State of Origin captain made a flying visit to a host of local schools yesterday to bang the anti-bullying drum.
But in a reception every bit as spirited as an opening Origin tackle at Lang Park, Gidley was mobbed by a scrum of pint-sized league fans as he entered the school hall at Tamworth South Public.
“It’s great to be here meeting the kids,” Gidley said.
“I feel like Tamworth and the Hunter are our territory ... I’d like to think any talented kids coming through would come down and play with us.”
Despite not being named for the Knights in tonight’s match, Gidley revealed he would be taking the field in what will be his first match since the ankle injury that forced him out of last season’s semi-finals.
“I should be right to play in the second half and all being well, I’ll be back in round one,” he said.
He said he was looking forward to avenging last year’s last-gasp defeat to the Sharks in the corresponding trial match at Scully Park.
“It would be good to get a win this time,” he said.
“Scully is a great ground and I remember it being in pretty good nick.”
Earlier yesterday, Knights coach Wayne Bennett had a crowd at Wests Diggers in stitches at a special league luncheon.
Tonight’s match will kick-off at 7.30pm at Scully Park.