Simpson setting sights on new goal, new contract

Veteran Newcastle back-rower Steve Simpson will begin negotiations with the Knights in the coming weeks after quitting representative football in an attempt to prolong his career.<br><br>Simpson, who played 13 games for NSW and seven Tests for Australia, missed last week’s win over North Queensland with a shoulder injury and believes his body is no longer up to the demands of a grueling representative schedule.<br><br>But he told NRL.com that he isn’t ready to call it quits on his glittering NRL career just yet with his manager, George Mimis, looking to secure a new two-year deal.<br><br>“Obviously that depends on injuries and things but hopefully I’ve got another year or two in me,” Simpson said.<br><br>“My manager and the club are starting discussions now. There is no great big rush but hopefully I can play for a bit longer. <br><br>“I’ll just wait and see how that all pans out in the next month.”<br><br>While Simpson’s representative career was already winding down after being overlooked by NSW selectors last season, he said it was important to make it official – admitting that his body could no longer handle the rigors of a State of Origin camp. <br><br>“When you’re away for rep footy you do a fair bit of training on the field,” the 30-year-old said.<br><br>“These days at club level I train two or three days a week at most. <br><br>“So I’m just trying to keep the body as fresh as I can and if I keep fresh I think I tend to play a bit better.<br><br>“But I’m happy with my decision. I’ve had a good run. <br><br>“I think it’s time I move over and focus wholly and solely on the Knights.”<br><br>Simpson underwent a fitness test on his injured shoulder yesterday and is expected to take the field against Cronulla at Toyota Stadium on Saturday night in a crucial game for the Knights.<br><br>Despite enjoying a comfortable win over North Queensland last week, Newcastle is precariously placed outside the top eight and will expect to beat the struggling Sharks if they are genuine finals prospects in 2010.<br><br>“It’s one of those danger games,” Simpson said. “They’ll be disappointed after their effort last week so we need to play well and keep the pressure on them.<br><br>Asked his thoughts on the Knights this season, Simpson said: “I think we can be travelling a bit better. <br><br>“There were a few games that got away from us earlier in the year which we’re pretty disappointed about but the main thing for us is just improving on last week’s game. <br><br>“We started well but the second half was a bit scratchy again. <br><br>“Our form has been quite patchy this year so we need to play better for longer periods of the game.”<br><br>Newcastle endured a disastrous start to the season when forwards Danny Wicks and Chris Houston were forced to step down following allegations of supplying drugs.<br><br>Despite causing a huge upset in round one by downing Canterbury, the Knights then embarked on a four game losing streak before returning to the winner’s circle against an injury-hit Cowboys side last Saturday.<br><br>But Simpson said the club had high hopes this season as key players, including captain Kurt Gidley, return from injury.<br><br>“We’d like to think we’ll be fairly competitive this year,” he said. <br><br>“I think the finals are a definite goal of ours and if we don’t make them we’ve got to be looking at ourselves pretty hard.”<br><br><b>Late NRL News:</b><br>•&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Dean Collis returns for the Sharks, replacing injured centre Ben Pomeroy (finger).<br>•&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah is almost certain to play against Penrith despite suffering an elbow injury in last Friday’s loss to the Bulldogs.<br>•&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Will Matthews is the unlucky player to drop out after Gold Coast coach John Cartwright named a five-man bench earlier in the week.<br>