THE statistics will make grim reading for Knights fans.
After Kurt Gidley confirmed yesterday that he would need a season-ending shoulder reconstruction, the Newcastle Herald can reveal the cold, hard numbers that highlight the influence the inspirational skipper has on his team’s results.
In the past five seasons, Gidley has missed 27 games through injuries and representative commitments, of which the Knights have won just eight, at a success rate of 29.6per cent.
Of the 80 games in which Gidley has played, Newcastle have won 42, for a 52.5per cent strike rate.
That means the Knights have a 22.9per cent better chance of winning – almost a quarter – when Gidley is available than in his absence.
Given that the Knights are already two points adrift of the top eight, after four wins from their first nine games, that does not augur well for what lies ahead.
If Newcastle’s success rate – or lack thereof – minus Gidley was to continue over the rest of this campaign, they could be expected to win four of their remaining 15 games, which would leave them languishing with the cellar dwellers.
To qualify for the top eight, teams usually need to win at least 50per cent of their games.
But if the loss of the NRL’s premier utility player is a worry for supporters, the man who will fill Newcastle’s scrumbase hot seat exuded a sense of confidence yesterday.
Tyrone Roberts does not turn 21 until next month and has only nine top-grade games under his belt.
But the Junior Kangaroos representative is viewing Gidley’s misfortune as an opportunity to establish himself in first grade and has asked coach Wayne Bennett to entrust him with more responsibility.
‘‘I’m looking forward to it,’’ Roberts said. ‘‘I hope I’m in there each week. I’m ready to step up and take the pressure.’’
Having agreed last week to a two-year contract extension, Roberts felt it was time to establish himself as a first-grade regular.
‘‘I just take every opportunity as it comes,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve enjoyed every part of it. I love it.’’
Roberts first joined the Knights as a 14-year-old, moving from his home town of Ballina to live at Kirinari Aboriginal Hostel, in Garden Suburb, for four years.
From there he progressed through the juniors and last season skippered Newcastle’s under 20s, making his NRL debut against Cronulla in round six.
‘‘I’ve been here for a period of time and call this place home,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s good to be staying here.’’
Roberts said his advice from Bennett before Sunday’s 24-6 loss to the Roosters was straightforward.
‘‘Just be myself,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m at my best when I’m being myself, when I’m taking a little pressure off [Jarrod Mullen].
‘‘Just not thinking about the game. Just going out and having fun ... I need to get involved.’’
Roberts partnered Mullen, Gidley and Ryan Stig in Newcastle’s halves last year and was eager to forge a settled combination with the former.
‘‘When we got up there [against the Roosters], we looked good, but we didn’t get up there much in the first half,’’ he said.
‘‘In the second half, it was the same. We kept dropping the ball, giving away penalties on the last tackle.
‘‘We had a talk at half-time and just decided to go back to the basics. Once we did that, and worked together, we sorted everything out.
‘‘But then we just went back to making mistakes, causing penalties, and we were on the back foot all the time.’’