Newcastle Knights’ captain Kurt Gidley believes Melbourne are the team to beat, ahead of their finals encounter on Sunday afternoon.
Speaking at the annual Captain's Call, Gidley said he understands the task at hand, but feels his side are more than ready for the challenge.
“You could probably say Melbourne, Manly and Brisbane are the top three teams but I think the Storm are a step ahead of everyone else,” he said.
“You’ve got to come up against the best – that’s what the finals series is about.
“We come up against the best in the competition in Melbourne. It’s a big task, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Given that the Knights finished in eighth position, they can’t lose another game this season. This doesn’t faze the Knights’ skipper.
“Basically, our semis started last week. We needed to win against Souths to get in the semis and we’re here now.
“Whenever you’re in the finals series, you’re a chance.”
Despite Melbourne’s heavy loss to the Roosters, Gidley is well aware that it will be a far different side that runs out Sunday afternoon.
“They rested a couple of boys, which is fair enough – they had first spot wrapped up. They’ll be as full strength as they can be, and we will be too.
“It’s a big game, and we need to be at our best.”
While much of the focus during the year has been on 2012, Gidley was quick to remind everyone that season 2011 is far from over.
“We’ve got plenty of work to do this year before the year is out, and hopefully we play a few more games yet.
“It’s been a huge year for the club with Nathan coming on board and he’s been a great thing for the whole town and the Newcastle Knights.
“Our membership increased by 8,000 season ticket holders since Nathan took over and it showed on Friday night when we had over 30,000 at the game.
“Exciting times for this year, and also the future.”