Heighington puts faith in luckless Griffin to bounce back
A fourth ACL injury would be enough to make anyone throw in the towel but Newcastle Knights veteran Chris Heighington is confident that wretched run of luck won't stop teammate Slade Griffin from bouncing back stronger than ever.
Griffin, who joined the Knights this season from the Storm, ruptured a previous ACL graft as well as tearing a lateral ligament and lateral meniscus in an horrific incident against the Bulldogs last Saturday.
"It's terrible, I was right there when it happened," Heighington said.
"He's a great player and great leader and I'm sure he will fight to get back.
"He's had a few ACL's before so he has got the drive and focus to get back, and I am looking forward to seeing him out there again."
Injuries to Griffin and Kalyn Ponga (hamstring) further soured last Saturday's loss to the Bulldogs but the Knights should be boosted by the return of Mitchell Pearce for their round 18 clash against Parramatta.
Winger Nathan Ross is another pushing for an NRL return after a strong showing in the Intrust Super Premiership, and the current squad knows they must step up in order to keep their spots.
"Nathan went really well, so it's only going to improve the team when there's quality players," centre Cory Denniss said.
"It makes everyone in the side fight harder for your spot.
"That's what all the good teams do, whenever there's a quality player in reserve grade, and we have a few at the moment, it puts pressure on everyone."
Denniss has played four games in first grade this season, and while he has not crossed the stripe, he has averaged more than 100 metres per game.
"I'm learning every game, there's always stuff to work on," he said.
"It all starts on the training paddock, so everything that I can do to get myself prepared for the game, I'll continue to work hard on that."
Sam Stone played just his second game of the season against the Bulldogs and believes his game has improved out of sight this season. The 20-year-old forward is now determined to make a spot in the NRL a permanent one.
"I can tell with my tackling and stuff that the work in the gym has actually made a difference," Stone said.
"It always reassures you that you are going in the right direction when you actually see the improvements."