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While Sharks fans are still scratching their heads at the decision by their club’s powerbrokers to let hooker Isaac De Gois go, Novocastrians have been pleasantly surprised by the immediate impact the no.9 has had on the Knights’ improving team.<br><br>After all, it was never going to be easy to pull on that jersey, previously held by Danny Buderus for 12 years. However De Gois was an astute purchase, immediately negating the problems of trying to replace a superstar, something the club has had huge problems replicating at halfback.<br><br>With a Storm front set to sweep through EnergyAustralia Stadium this Monday night, threatening to completely derail the Knights’ season, De Gois is one of the key men the Knights will be counting on in the face of adversity – just as they did with Buderus. <br><br>With full licence to play the game as he sees it, De Gois has been the star even when the Knights failed to fire over the past three weeks. Determined in defence and smart in attack, the pint-sized Portuguese playmaker is one of the buys of the season.<br><br>And most important of all De Gois, who has already bought a house in the coastal town, is enjoying the Newcastle experience.<br><br>“It’s a one-town, one-team kind of thing and the supporters really get behind us and they have been great. It’s a real laidback feel, all the boys live five, 10 minutes away from each other,” the All Saints Liverpool junior says.<br><br>“From the first week of training all the boys were inviting me around their house for dinner, which has been really good.”<br><br>But the good times that kicked off the year have come to an abrupt halt, coincidentally since coach Brian Smith announced he will be leaving for the Roosters at the end of the season. Smith has been pivotal in tapping De Gois’ potential, and the young hooker has publicly pledged his continuing support to his current mentor.<br><br>However he concedes that despite solid training sessions throughout the week, the Knights are simply not putting everything into their performances.<br><br>“Training has been great – it’s been the same all year. The boys are getting ‘up’ for training and we just need to try and turn things around this week,” he insists.<br><br>“I don’t know why but our energy has been down as well for the past few weeks, but we go to training and all the boys are keeping their heads up so hopefully we can just get a win.<br><br>“Absolutely, it’s a shame to see [Smith] go but he’s here for the rest of this year and hopefully we can do something for him as a team.”<br><br>But time is running out for the Knights, who dropped out of the top eight this week after their huge loss to the Eels. Injuries have disrupted their season, particularly with regular reshuffling in the halves – but that is no excuse according to De Gois.<br><br>While he has adapted to whichever team-mate is calling the playmaking shots, Smith now has the confidence and authority to make his own decisions.<br><br>“It’s mainly just trying to keep my eyes up in attack to see where the defence is and where they’re short of numbers, which I didn’t really do before – it was just ‘get it to the halfback’,” De Gois explains. <br><br>“They’ve been teaching me to play what’s in front of me, not always just play what’s called.”<br><br>De Gois was far from just an impulse-buy; Smith had been watching the now 24-year-old ever since he was a junior at the Magpies, and was keen to see what he could do when given his chance away from the Wests Tigers and Robbie Farah. Last year at the Sharks, Smith was impressed with what he saw.<br><br>“It was the qualities that he displayed in the Cronulla team last year after he had to move from the Tigers, because really his opportunities at the Wests Tigers were limited,” he offers.<br><br>“As soon as he got the chance he’s done really well at Cronulla. As we spent a bit of time with him we worked out what sort of character he was, and he was perfect for the Newcastle club. I think he’s fitted in not just on the field but off the field as well. He is very highly regarded by everyone here.”
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