He was left devastated when told by the Knights last year that his services were no longer required, but Cronulla hooker Isaac De Gois insists he has no point to prove when he comes up against his former club for the first time this Sunday.
De Gois has returned to the Sharks this season for his second stint after playing 50 games for them in 2007-’08. He had originally agreed to terms on a new contract that would have kept him in Newcastle until 2014 before Nathan Tinkler’s takeover and the appointment of Wayne Bennett as coach saw the hesitant Knights renege on the deal.
Asked at the time how he felt about his departure, De Gois told NRL.com that: “Absolutely I was devastated. I think everyone now knows I agreed to sign on for another three years… before the takeover was sorted – then my manager was told I wasn’t wanted and that I should find another club. It was devastating because I committed to stay – it was pretty hard to take. In saying that I’m just fortunate that Cronulla picked me up and that’s where everything started for me.”
But as he prepares to face off against his old team-mates this weekend, De Gois said he wouldn’t let the events of 2011 cloud his mind as the Sharks look to claim their first win of the new season.
“It was just one of those things that happens when you’re told that you’re not wanted. I moved forward at the time and I’ve done it again this year,” he said. “I’m truly happy to be back at the Sharks.”
On whether he holds a grudge, De Gois replied: “Not really. I just want to try and play good footy for the Sharks. I don’t have anything to prove. I’ve put it all behind me.
“Having been at the Sharks before, I feel really comfortable here and I’m enjoying my football.
“I’ve got a nice little house in Engadine. It’s a good spot and I’m closer to family here. I’m happy to be back and happy to be part of the Sharks again.”
De Gois’s presence is one of a number of sub-plots that could make for an explosive encounter at Toyota Stadium on Sunday, with Newcastle prop Kade Snowden certain to receive a frosty welcome by the Sharks faithful after he backed out on a handshake deal to stay with the club in order to take up a big-money contract with the Knights.
It will also be the first time De Gois has faced up against the man who replaced him in the No.9 jersey – Danny Buderus – since the former NSW captain’s return.
The Sharks hooker is expecting a volatile encounter.
“Last week I had Robbie [Farah] who is a class hooker and this week it’s [Buderus] so it doesn’t get any easier,” he said.
“But their whole forward pack is pretty solid, so me being a little man, it’s a big challenge for our middle to mark up against their middle. No games are easy this year. It’s our first home game and the boys will be looking for a good performance.”
While coach Shane Flanagan was left fuming by two costly refereeing errors in last week’s golden-point loss to the Wests Tigers, De Gois promised there would be no hangover from the side’s close call and said the team unit were determined to learn from their mistakes rather than focus on factors outside of their control.
“It was a tough game but we did our video the other day and saw what we need to work on,” he said. “We only had ourselves to blame. We dropped the ball too much. The Tigers have been the best attacking side in the NRL for a few years now so you give them that much ball and you pay the consequences. That’s what we did. It was our own fault and we’ll just have to move on.”
Despite the narrow opening round loss, De Gois said the Sharks were confident of pushing for a finals berth in 2012 following the arrival of halfback Todd Carney and enforcer Andrew Fifita, among others.
“There have been a lot of changes since last time I was here – obviously ‘Flanno’ is head coach now and he was assistant last time I was here,” he said. “It’s basically a whole new team. There are only a handful of them that were here last time I was here.
“But we’ve had a pretty good off-season and everyone here gets on well. We’re still learning everyone’s best plays and things like that so I think it will take a few games for it all to come together but we’re working hard on that at training so hopefully we’ll start to see results.”