Fresh from his State of Origin heroics for Queensland, Dane Gagai says he’s fully focused on helping to lift Newcastle off the bottom of the NRL ladder.
Gagai scored a hat-trick in the Maroons’ series-clinching 26-16 win over NSW on Wednesday night in Brisbane – the high of that victory a stark contrast to his season with the Knights.
The 25-year-old says after celebrating his success with Queensland, there’ll be no Origin hangover when he takes to the field for the Knights on Saturday against St George Illawarra.
“I’m back here now and like I’ve said previously whatever jersey I’m representing, I’m going to do it to the best of my abilities,” Gagai said.
“I got to enjoy my time and the moment with the Origin boys there and my family.
“That moment’s gone now and I’ve just got to be in this moment here and that’s with the Newcastle Knights.
“Looking forward to the weekend – big challenge ahead of us with the Dragons, haven’t had too many wins but we’ll definitely be looking to get one this weekend.”
As well as Gagai, the Knights will be boosted for the visit of the Dragons with Peter Mata’utia (knee), Nathan Ross (calf) and Robbie Rochow (arm) all back from injury.
The Dragons head north without recruit Tariq Sims, who cannot play against his former club as part of his early release deal from the Knights.
NSW debutant Tyson Frizell didn’t train with the squad on Friday but would travel to Newcastle and could possibly play, while Josh Dugan looked certain to return from an elbow injury after completing training.
The Dragons are big favourites to keep the Knights’ long wait for a second win of the season going, having won 15 of their past 20 encounters with Newcastle including both matches last season.
KEY MATCH STATS:
* St George Illawarra have a formidable record in Newcastle, winning 14 of 17 fixtures at Hunter Stadium
* This will be the first time Knights coach Nathan Brown has faced his former club
* The Knights have lost eight in a row – their worst streak since a club record 13-game run in 2005