Kurt Gidley: Former Newcastle Knights captain returns in club corporate role

Returning: Former Newcastle Knights skipper Kurt Gidley is returning to the club in a corporate role following his retirement. Picture: Peter Stoop
Returning: Former Newcastle Knights skipper Kurt Gidley is returning to the club in a corporate role following his retirement. Picture: Peter Stoop

Two years after his decorated 251-game NRL career ended at the club, Kurt Gidley is back at the Newcastle Knights.

The former Knights skipper will join the club’s corporate management team for the first time on Monday in a business development executive role as part of Newcastle’s new era under the ownership of Wests Group.

In an appointment certain to win widespread approval from sponsors and fans, Gidley’s job description includes community and corporate work as well as an involvement in media.

“I’m really looking forward to it and grateful for the opportunity,” Gidley said on Sunday.

“I’m starting tomorrow and it is going to be a bit of a hybrid job where I’ll probably be involved in a few different areas.

“There will be some community stuff, some corporate stuff initially and game day involvement during the season as well and some input into the club’s on-line media.

“I’d imagine I’ll be pulled in a few different directions and I can see it being a really good experience.”

Gidley’s 15 seasons as a player at the Knights saw him become the club’s second-most capped player behind Danny Buderus before he finished up at the end of the 2015 season.

He has spent the past two years playing with English Super League club Warrington, coming agonisingly close to winning the Challenge Cup/grand final double with the club in his first year.

But after finishing up at the end of last season and returning home to Newcastle with his young family, Gidley said a football department role did not interest him. 

“I’m looking forward to doing something on the corporate side of things as opposed to the footy side of it,” he said.

“I got my level two strength and conditioning while I was in England but by the time I finished that, I was thinking I don’t really think this is what I want to do.

“I wanted to try something new and after talking to Phil [Gardner, Wests boss and Knights CEO], this opportunity opened up for me on the corporate side.

“To be honest, I’m happy to try and steer away from the coaching side of things. Maybe one day it will happen but at the moment - part of retiring - I want to get away from it a bit.

“It’s great the way it’s worked out that I can still stay involved in the game and back at the Knights, who I love and back in Newcastle. But I want to try something else and learn some new skills.”

Gardner said Gidley’s standing within the club and in Newcastle makes him a perfect fit for the business development role, which was previously filled to some degree by James McManus.

Gardner also revealed Gidley’s former teammate Mark Hughes will be working more closely with the Knights following the sale of his cleaning business. 

“To have Kurt and Mark, who had such great playing careers at the Knights, involved again is a huge positive for our club and will enhance our strong corporate position,” Gardner said.