KNIGHTS captain Kurt Gidley will replace Tyrone Roberts at halfback when he returns from a thigh injury against Canberra at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
Roberts has been diagnosed with a syndesmosis injury, or high ankle sprain, to his right leg and the Knights expect him to be sidelined for at least a month, meaning his streak of 79 consecutive games stretching back to May 2012 has come to an end.
The timing of his injury means Roberts could miss only two or three games because the Knights have byes in round 14 next weekend and round 17 (July 3 to 6).
He will miss games against Canberra on Saturday and Cronulla at Hunter Stadium on June 21 but, depending on his rate of recovery, could be considered for the round-16 game against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on June 26.
The Knights will have their second bye the following weekend, so a more likely return date for Roberts would be the round-18 rematch with the Raiders in Canberra on July 10.
The 24-year-old playmaker was injured when his leg was trapped under Warriors back-rower Ryan Hoffman while making a tackle on the NSW forward in the fourth minute of Newcastle’s 24-20 loss at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday.
Gidley missed that game because of a corked thigh sustained in the team’s 31-18 loss to the Broncos at Hunter Stadium six days earlier.
The switch to halfback means the former NSW and Australian utility will be lining up in his third position this year. Gidley started the season at fullback then shifted to five-eighth last month after regular pivot Jarrod Mullen was sidelined because of a toe injury.
Mullen is still out of action, meaning Gidley will partner former Warriors five-eighth Carlos Tuimavave, who made his Newcastle debut against his former club in Auckland on Sunday.
The game against Canberra will be the first NRL game for the Knights at Hunter Stadium for 23-year-old Tuimavave and former Raiders prop Sam Mataora, who like Tuimavave made his Knights debut against the Warriors.
Mataora has been retained on the bench alongside utility Tyler Randell and forwards Chris Houston and Korbin Sims.
Coach Rick Stone named prop Kade Snowden to return from a neck injury against Canberra, but he and Gidley will have to prove their fitness at training on Wednesday and Friday.
Lock Jeremy Smith was not selected, meaning he will miss a third straight game because of a sternum injury. Stone retained Jack Stockwell as Smith’s replacement in the run-on side.
Meanwhile, Canberra coach Ricky Stuart named winger Jordan Rapana to return after he missed their past two games with a fractured cheekbone.
In the reshuffle to accommodate Rapana’s return, Sisa Waqa was selected at centre, forward Jarrad Kennedy reverts to the bench and lock Luke Bateman was omitted.
● Todd Carney’s injury-hit first season in Super League has gone from bad to worse.
The playmaker was ruled out for up to two months with a torn pectoral muscle.
The Catalans Dragons’ five-eighth was taken from the field in Sunday’s 22-22 draw with Huddersfield clutching his shoulder, and scans have confirmed his worst fears.