Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
35 hours ago
The Newcastle Knights have signed two of their top players and one of their most promising young players to new 2 year contracts. First graders Matt Parsons and Sean Rudder have both signed new deals, as well as youngster Kurt Gidley.
Matt Parsons was an important signing as it keeps the front row pairing of Parsons and Perry together for a few more years, the same pairing that gave it to a superior Eels pack in the 2001 grand final. Parsons staying also helps the Knights keep their front row in the top five, strength wise, as the Knights have very few if any young props showing that they are ready to step up to first grade as early as next year. Parsons will most likely finish his career in England after this contract, as age is starting to creep up on the big front rower, giving the Knights two years to find a replacement.
Sean Rudder agreeing to stay was never beyond doubt, as the handy utility is as loyal as he is consistent. After playing all of 2001 and 2002 at 5/8 along side Andrew Johns, Rudder staying was always going to be important. His partner ship he has built up with the games number one player over the last year makes him as valuable to the Knights as almost any other player at the club, and Johns seems to play his best football with Rudder on his outside.
Kurt Gidley agreeing to two more years is the best news Knights fans could have hoped for all year. Gidley would have been chased by nearly every other club in the NRL had he not been signed before the anti-tampering deadline. Gidley is tipped by many as the next Andrew Johns, and it is no surprise that his contract runs about at almost the same time and Joey?s. The Knights will then be faced with a decision that no team wants, possibly lose Gidley to another club or lose Johns, they have two years to think about it.