Mason returns serve on Gamble after Knights’ exit after ‘get f—ed’ sledge

NRL legend Willie Mason has hit back at Newcastle five-eighth Tyson Gamble following the Knights’ exit from the finals at the hands of the New Zealand Warriors on Saturday afternoon.

Gamble had told Willie Mason to stay in his lane after the former Test prop claimed the Knights’ had “the worst spine in the game”.

Mason immediately took to Twitter after full time to lay into Gamble, posting: “There could not be a bigger hole that Tyson Gamble wants to crawl into right now. Pick ya battles boy. You are below average.”

The outspoken Mason, who played three seasons for Newcastle, said on a podcast last week that opposition sides would not be fearful of the Knights’ key playmaking threats.

Mason highlighted the brilliance of fullback Kalyn Ponga, but said no team would be doing video analysis on a spine containing halfback Jackson Hastings, hooker Phoenix Crossland and Gamble.

Hastings, Crossland and Gamble all confirmed they had seen the comments, with the latter telling Mason to focus on the issues at Canterbury where he is part of Cameron Ciraldo’s backroom staff.

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 15: Tyson Gamble of the Knights celebrates after kicking a field goalduring the round seven NRL match between Newcastle Knights and Penrith Panthers at McDonald Jones Stadium on April 15, 2023 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Tyson Gamble with Bradman Best. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

“Me, Jacko and Phoenix definitely saw it,” Gamble told AAP.

“Everybody’s got an opinion. It’s alright, he should probably worry about his own backyard before he starts worrying about other people.

“He was a middle not a half, so tell him to get f***ed. We’re not a team of superstars, we’ve got Kalyn who is the biggest star in the game.

“We’re a team of blokes who do their job and that’s why we’re in the position we’re in.”

The Knights beat Mason’s Bulldogs 66-0 and 42-6 in their two meetings this season, for an aggregate scoreline of 108-6.

Across the two games against the Dogs, Crossland, Gamble and Hastings scored twice each.

Crossland, in particular, has impressed for the Knights this season.

While traditionally a five-eighth, the Wellington-born 23-year-old has done a commendable job filling in at hooker and is in the frame for a New Zealand call-up.

“I saw what he said and everyone’s entitled to their opinion, I’m not going to sit here and bag Willie,” Crossland said, adding that he respected Mason’s achievements on the field.

“He’s done a lot in the game and he’s entitled to express that opinion.”

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Tyson Gamble of the Knights shows referee Ashley Klein his arm during the NRL Elimination Final match between Newcastle Knights and Canberra Raiders at McDonald Jones Stadium on September 10, 2023 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Tyson Gamble shows referee Ashley Klein his arm after the biting incident. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Gamble was keen to draw a line under the Jack Wighton biting allegations he made on the field against Canberra when asked about the incident shortly after the game.

“I want to leave that on the field. That’s footy,” he said. “It’s done and dusted, we shook hands and (Wighton) said all the best for the rest of the finals series. We’ll put it to the side and move on.”

Hastings is desperate to play against the Warriors after failing to finish the win over Canberra with an ankle injury.

The Newcastle five-eighth said the plight of Melbourne fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen made him realise how fortunate he is to be contemplating a swift return. 

After only a few games back from a fractured kneecap, Papenhuyzen is set to be sidelined for weeks with a broken ankle suffered in Friday’s loss to Brisbane.

“You feel a little bit left out (when you’re injured). But that’s part of footy,” Hastings said. “It could be worse. I feel for Ryan Papenhuyzen and the inspirational story of him coming back.

“It was stressful to watch him go off, it made me feel proud of how tough he was.”


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