Knights doing it for retiring warhorse
Newcastle centre Dane Gagai's main motivation for the Knights' final home game of the season on Sunday afternoon will be to send retiring co-captain Jeremy Smith out a winner against the Rabbitohs.
The Knights will need to end a 16-game losing run if they're to make their objective a reality against South Sydney but Gagai remained upbeat about the task ahead.
Smith – the oldest player to feature in the NRL this season at 36 – will retire in a fortnight's time following a career that's spanned four clubs, two premiership victories and 22 Tests for New Zealand.
Funnily enough, Gagai told NRL.com he and Smith have never always seen eye to eye.
"Just before he came to the Knights when he was at the Sharks, we had our differences. We nearly ended up in a little dust up there in a game," Gagai laughed.
"He had a word to me when we first arrived and we knocked that one on the head."
Smith has played injured for the most part of his final season and Gagai said a description of "warhorse" was most apt for his revered teammate.
"Jez is busted all over but he finds a way to turn up and do what he does. He's a massive inspiration for us and he's impacted a lot of our younger forwards coming through. To think it's his second-last game is something that's in the back of my mind," Gagai said.
"He's been a legend of the game and we are looking forward to sending him out the way he deserves to be because he's one of those players you love being alongside here.
"He brings confidence to the team and he's just an awesome bloke on top of it. I'll be going out there to do everything I can to get the win for Jeremy Smith."
Knights players will wear a unique 'Farewell Jez' badge on their jerseys this weekend to commemorate his retirement.
Coincidentally, Smith will don the No.13 jumper for his final game at Hunter Stadium in his 213th NRL game, where general admission tickets will also cost $13.
Sunday afternoon will also see the Knights celebrate their traditional Old Boys game – an occasion on which the Knights have won 12 of their past 16 games.
"You just know the lads there who have worn the jersey before us will be watching. They're the foundation of this club," Gagai said of the Knights' winning record on Old Boys Day.
"It's a jersey which has been worn with pride and for the old boys watching you don't want to let them down."