Knights bank on Dobson to deliver

THUMBS UP: Michael Dobson during Knights training at Wests Mayfield on Friday. Picture: Jonathan CarrollMICHAEL Dobson will let nobody down.

That is the confident prediction from the man who knows Dobson’s game better than anyone – Hull Kingston Rovers coach Craig Sandercock.

Sandercock, a former assistant tactician at Newcastle and Manly, coached Dobson at Rovers in Super League from 2011-12.

He said the 27-year-old was more than capable of filling in while Knights playmaker Jarrod Mullen was sidelined with a torn hamstring.

Dobson will make his Knights debut in today’s season opener against the Panthers at Penrith, six years after he last played in the NRL.

Asked if the former Hull KR skipper was up to NRL standard, Sandercock told the Newcastle Herald: ‘‘That’s a good question. A lot of people have asked me that.

‘‘I’d answer that by saying he was the standout halfback in the entire Super League competition last season, and if work ethic and commitment have anything to do with it, he’ll definitely make it.

‘‘He won’t let anyone down, that’s for sure.’’

Sandercock said Dobson – who played 153 games for Hull KR from 2008-13 and scored almost 1300 points – reminded him of Knights skipper Kurt Gidley in terms of dedication.

‘‘He’s up there with Kurt Gidley, in my opinion, in how hard he trains and how hard he works on his game,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s the extras he does. He’s always working on his general-play kicking, and his goal-kicking, out of hours, and he really was a thorough professional.

‘‘As I said, he really was the standout halfback over here by a long way.’’

An Australian Schoolboys representative, Dobson left the NRL at the relatively young age of 22 when Todd Carney and Terry Campese leapfrogged him into Canberra’s first-grade team.

At the time, Dobson had played 20 NRL games.

He had stints with Catalans Dragons and Wigan before he settled at Hull KR and quickly became a crowd favourite.

‘‘He came over here for a little bit of experience but he played so well he was soon in pretty heavy demand from Super League clubs,’’ Sandercock said. ‘‘He found his niche over here.

‘‘He established himself over here and full credit to him for stepping out of his comfort zone and heading back for another shot at the NRL.’’

Sandercock said Dobson was ‘‘a different player to Mullo’’ but was a strong organiser with a good kicking game and a left-foot step that helps him break the line.

He was confident that, at 82kilograms, Dobson would not be exposed in defence.

‘‘In terms of his build, he’s very solid. That’s one thing about his game that really pleased me. He works hard on his defence and doesn’t miss many tackles,’’ he said.

Penrith will choose between former Knights, and brothers, Wes and Kevin Naiqama after star signing Jamal Idris was ruled out yesterday with a hamstring injury.

Wes would appear the more likely candidate but he has been recovering from a strained pectoral muscle.

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said new halves Peter Wallace and Jamie Soward would ‘‘share the playmaking load’’.

‘‘Both of them are very experienced. So far in practice, they have been working very well together,’’ he said.

Cleary said the Panthers ‘‘will certainly give ourselves a chance’’ if they can put enough pressure on Newcastle who he noted have ‘‘a couple of key guys missing’’.

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