Kurt Mann is expected to be the Knights starting hooker in 2019. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)
Kurt Mann is expected to be the Knights starting hooker in 2019. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

Knights great’s warning to Mann over switch

KURT Mann is a proven playmaker and a threatening ball-runner.

The 25-year-old has shown this over his five seasons in first grade in which he's played every position in the backline.

But defending in the middle third - as he'll do if he is indeed thrown the Knights No.9 jersey -  will be new to him.

Former Knights gun Kurt Gidley was a footballer in the same mould as Mann.

He was effective anywhere in the backline, and eventually found himself playing a fair bit of dummy-half later in his career.

And while he has no doubt Mann is a shrewd pick-up by coach Nathan Brown, he has warned the hooking role is the "most demanding position on the field".

"He's got plenty of skills and attributes that any team player would want," Gidley said.

"But there's no doubt hooker is the most demanding position on the field, I believe."

Defending in the middle could test Kurt Mann. Picture: Brett Costello
Defending in the middle could test Kurt Mann. Picture: Brett Costello

Gidley said it's the defensive workload and the physical toll of slowing down the play-the-ball that Mann could struggle with.

"I played fullback, where you have to do plenty of running, which is tough, but the wrestling and tackling aspect of hooker, it definitely takes a toll on you," he said.

"The fatigue, and the soreness in the days after a game, and picking yourself up to do it week after week, it's a real challenge.

"But he's a good player and I believe he'll be able to handle it."

Mann was on Monday granted a release from the Dragons to sign a three-year deal with Newcastle, where he is understood to be the front-runner for the starting hooker spot ahead of incumbent Danny Levi.

With New Zealand international Slade Griffin out of action for much of the season, Mann will have every chance to cement the position long-term.

But Mann's versatility could play against him, as he would be seen as a reliable option to fill-in for the likes of Mitchell Pearce, Kalyn Ponga and Connor Watson if they were to be struck down by injuries or called up for rep duties.

News Corp Australia


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