Veteran Newcastle winger James McManus has paid tribute to departing captain Kurt Gidley, who announced on Tuesday he had signed a one-year deal with the Warrington Wolves in the English Super League.
McManus said the the 236-game (and counting) Knight would be a huge loss for the club, but that Gidley's impending departure could prove to be the motivation the Knights needed to reverse their current four-game losing streak.
"He's been such a great leader for so long that it's important for me anyway, and I know it is for other guys, that we finish the year really well and do a really great job for him," McManus told NRL.com.
"He means so much to the place and I think he deserves that we have a really good year for him. It'll certainly be something that will add a bit of fuel to our fire for the rest of the season."
Gidley, a proud 12-time Australian and NSW representative, has chosen to step aside at a time where several young stars at the club are knocking on the door of the NRL.
With the likes of Dane Gagai and Sione, Chanel and Pat Mata'utia all re-signing with Newcastle in recent weeks, and others such as Jake Mamo and Nathan Ross biding their time in NSW Cup, McManus praised Gidley for his unselfish decision to step aside at year's end to allow for the club's youth to shine.
"He's been a great captain and a great club man for a long time and he knows where the direction the club is heading in and there's some really great young players coming through," McManus said.
"He's had a hand in helping out a lot of those young guys, and with him moving on, it has allowed them to be able to stay so it really is a selfless thing he's done."
Having played alongside Gidley since his NRL debut – and at State of Origin level – McManus said his captain had been a constant source of inspiration.
"He's been one of those players who I've been able to look at over the years and be able to see what it takes to [be successful]. You watch Kurt train and see how he goes about his business and you know what it takes to be an elite player," he said.
"I'd like to think I've been able to model a lot of my work ethic from what I've seen from Kurt. He's one of those blokes who you can play outside of and just know he's going to have a go. It's obviously sad to see him go but we're going to make sure we're going to have a good year for him."
The Knights' bid to turn their season around begins this weekend against the Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval, and McManus expects a tough contest despite the fact the usual premiership heavyweights are running last on the NRL ladder.
McManus played in Country's win over City last week, alongside club teammates Akuila Uate, Tariq Sims and Kade Snowden, and was hopeful that rep round success could flow on to the Knights in the coming weeks.
"When you get to be around players from other teams that have a slightly different outlook at the moment where they may be coming off the back of wins. You sort of feed of them and it sort of filters back in," McManus said.
"I'd like to think that it can bring back a bit of a winning attitude for the boys and a bit of excitement and belief into this weekend's game. We haven't really done well at Brookvale so they're a tough team to play there.
"Their line speed is always quick and their wrestle is always solid which will make for a tough game. I think we're ready for it though, there is a lot of resolve in the group and we're really focused on turning this slump around."