NSW Origin star inks mammoth new deal

NSW Blues prop Daniel Saifiti has inked a new deal that will keep him at the Knights until at least 2026.

The barnstorming Newcastle co-captain has spent his entire NRL career at the club and was one of only two Knights to play at Origin level this series.

Safiti’s twin brother, Jacob, has also extended his stay in the Hunter for another two years.

Newcastle coach Adam O’Brien said he was pleased to have retained the brothers’ services.

“From the moment I arrived in Newcastle, I saw two young blokes who work really hard and are hungry to constantly improve themselves,” he said.

“Daniel is one of the most elite front rowers in the game and an important member of our leadership group. He has a strong physical presence and leads with actions.

“Jacob is always really hungry to improve and is very much his own man. He’s determined to set his own path and is always after continual improvement. His team-first actions lead the way amongst the squad every week.”

The Saifiti brothers have played more than 200 NRL games between them. Picture: AAP Image/Darren PatemanSource:AAP

Daniel Saifiti missed the third game of the Origin series with a rib injury but had featured in all of the Blues’ seven previous games, dating back to 2019.

He has been named to line up for Newcastle’s clash with the Storm at Cbus Super Stadium this Saturday but could be withdrawn late.

“We’ve got training this afternoon … we’ve done very little most of this week and Daniel’s even done less than that. We’ll get through this afternoon and then we’ll make a decision. He is looking quite good at the moment,” O’Brien said on Friday.

Like all of the league’s non-Queensland based clubs, the Knights flew to the Sunshine State earlier this week and will stay there for at least a month as Sydney and Melbourne battle Covid-19 outbreaks.

With just four competition points separating eighth and 14th place — and the depleted Dragons a game ahead of the logjam in seventh — the time away is likely to determine which two sides finish the season in the bottom quarter of the top eight.

A horror run of injuries has consigned the Novocastrians to ninth spot on the ladder after 17 rounds, but the side appears to be hitting its stride at the right time. Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce have both returned from injuries to restore Newcastle’s spine to full strength, and in their last two games, the Knights have toppled the Warriors and Cowboys.

“It’s been a difficult year as far as injuries and players in and out, so to get the spine back not only on the field but at training gives the whole team confidence,” Pearce said earlier this week.

The Knights veteran is under no illusions as to the importance of making the most of the time away.

“Whichever team adapts to the best mindset will obviously be the team that’s going to benefit most out of this last little period going into the finals,” he said.

For now, Newcastle turns its attention to the Storm and will hope to record a win against Craig Bellamy’s side for the first time since 2015.

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