Roje Adaimy, AAP
Newcastle captain Kurt Gidley has confirmed he'll start the new NRL season at hooker, with Michael Dobson expected to fill the No.6 role left vacant by the injured Jarrod Mullen.
The representative utility was one of several options Knights coach Wayne Bennett had been considering to fill the playmaking void after Mullen was ruled out with a hamstring injury suffered in last month's Auckland Nines.
Gidley and Darius Boyd shared five-eighth duties in their trial win over Canberra a fortnight ago, with Dane Gagai shifted to fullback from the centres.
But the 31-year-old veteran said he expected to retain the No.9 jumper for the season proper, as he'd planned, following the retirement of club legend Danny Buderus last year.
Journeyman Dobson is set to be named at five-eighth alongside halfback Tyrone Roberts for Saturday's round-one clash with Penrith.
"As long as I've been able to run, I've been training at hooker," said Gidley, who is returning from a lengthy stint on the sidelines with a foot injury.
"Knowing 'Bedsy' (Buderus) was retiring at the end of last year, I knew I was going to be moving into the hooker role.
"Obviously when 'Mullo' (Mullen) got injured, there was a possibility that I'd move into the halves, but I think Michael Dobson's been training well in the halves and it's looking like we'll go that way."
If that is the case, Boyd is likely to remain at No.1 and Gagai in the centres - however a shift could be likely at some point.
Gidley has played just 19 games in the past two seasons, suffering shoulder, foot and ankle problems.
He said he was both confident and excited to return to the paddock in 2014.
"It has been a long process since I hurt my foot against Brisbane a long time ago and a lot of rehab and looking after myself. But I've ticked all the right boxes.
"My goal was always round one and I made that."