Raring to go: Knights backrower Lachlan Fitzgibbon [pictured caught in a bear-hug by teammate Mitch Barnett] will start on the right edge against the Titans tomorrow after a two game suspension. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAPIt was atwo matchsuspension that turned into a frustrating five week stinton the sideline for Lachlan Fitzgibbon.
But the silver lining out of his enforced lay-off is the Knights backrower says he is physically and mentally raring to rip into the Gold Coast Titans at McDonald Jones Stadium tomorrow.
Originally named on the bench for the Titans clash,Fitzgibbon will start on the right edge and will be out to make up for lost time after his suspension stretched to a period of five weeks in limbo because of the representative round and a bye.
He was outed for a “crusher” tackle on Melbourne Storm forward Tim Glasby on June 17 which carried a one match ban for an early guilty plea.
Fitzgibbon and the club rolled the dice and he lost so copped an extra week.
“It was tough. We went down there with the expectation to win and not miss any games,” Fitzgibbon said.
“As it was, I get two weeks and we had the two byes in between. It was disappointing to say the least but that’s just a little road block in the season for me and I’m through it now and can’t wait to get out there.”
Despite losing at the judiciary, Fitzgibbon says there was no intended malice in the tackle and he has no regrets in fighting the charge.
“I think if I didn’t challenge it, I would have had to cop aweek and I’d be thinking back “what if” so it is what it is,” he said.
“They were two tough games to sit out, especially the Bulldogs game. We had aspirations of doing really well and it was tough on the sideline to get beaten the way we did.
“The Eels have been struggling but they still have some quality players and they came to play on the weekend so credit to the boysthat we held them out for that last 15 odd minutes.”
Fitzgibbon has been far from idle on the sideline and says he was put through a grueling “mini pre-season” training block to make up for the fact he wasn’t playing.
“It was a big four weeks [leading into this week] but in saying that, the silver lining of it all is I’m feeling fit and healthy and pretty strong at the moment,” he said.
While the Knights’ 33-26 loss to the Titans on the Gold Coast earlier in the season wastwo competition points the playersconcedethey threw away, it does not add any motivation to this game according to Fitzgibbon.
“We went up there with plenty ofexpectation and we had control for most of that game,” he said.
“But a couple of lapses and in the last 10 minutes, they came home with a wet sail and they managed to do a number on us up there which was very disappointing.
“But it’s not as if we owe them one. We want to beat every team and I don’t think there is extra motivation because of what happened last time.
“It’s just another week and another game and we should go out and perform strongly and hopefully win.
“There are seven or eight games left and our goal is to win as many as we can.”