Adam Cuthbertson settles into bench role

MOST footballers would take it as a demotion, but Knights prop Adam Cuthbertson said returning to the bench made him feel more comfortable.

For most of his career the former Manly, Cronulla and St George Illawarra recruit has been on the bench, but at the Knights he started the season in coach Wayne Bennett’s first-choice front-row pairing with Kade Snowden.

Snowden is out with a torn medial ligament in his left knee and Cuthbertson has been pushed to the bench in favour of Willie Mason and Zane Tetevano.

Against the Raiders at Canberra Stadium on Sunday, the 27-year-old will again wear the No.16.

‘‘If anything, starting was more foreign for me,’’ Cuthbertson said. ‘‘I played my 100th game on the weekend and I think I’ve only started about 15 games.

‘‘I was enjoying the role, but I was pretty much only filling a void and I think Willie and Zane have that job all wrapped up now, so I’m just enjoying doing what I can do off the bench.’’

Before joining the Knights this year the 2008 premiership winner with Manly was a renowned ball-playing forward.

That element of his game all but disappeared during the first half of the season as Cuthbertson came under increasing criticism from fans due to his lack of form.

NRL statistics reveal that Cuthbertson’s ball skills are slowly beginning to re-emerge with 16 of his 27 offloads this season coming in his past six matches.

‘‘It definitely helps, a bit of second phrase,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s almost like an extra tackle in a set.

‘‘I think more or less the problem was the boys weren’t used to playing with me at the start of the year and now they’re used to the concept of the offload in the tackle.

‘‘I know Bedsy [hooker Danny Buderus] is already sniffing around and ready to go, so I’ll definitely be enjoying getting the ball out.’’

Cuthbertson admitted playing under Bennett’s game plan had stifled some of his natural instincts, but he was keen to follow orders.

‘‘I love the job and I love doing that,’’ he said.

‘‘Each week Wayne has a game plan for us, so I try to stick to that first.

‘‘He doesn’t mind it [offloading]. It’s just about doing what I can for the team first and foremost and worry about that later.’’

The last time the Knights met the Raiders, on June 9 at Hunter Stadium, the boys from the ACT defeated Newcastle 32-16.

It was the Knights’ worst performance of the campaign and some supporters booed the players.

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