Veteran forward Dave Fa’alogo is eager to step up into the starting side when the Newcastle Knights return home to host the Penrith Panthers this Saturday.
“It gets me excited, starting the game is always a good thing and gives you the confidence from the coach,” Fa'alogo explained on Wednesday with a smile.
“It is good for confidence. I’ve been coming off the bench the last three weeks and haven’t really been getting much time.
“Hopefully this week I’ll start the game and tick that box."
Despite limited game time in the opening rounds, the dual international is not lacking in experience.
The 34-year-old has played professionally for more than 11 years and has racked up 242 matches at the South Sydney Rabbitohs, the English Superleague Club the Huddersfield Giants and the Knights, where he’s made 43 appearances.
“It’s a challenge I want to take on and I look forward to playing against the Panthers,” he said.
“It’s always a good challenge against a physical team. It’s no different to the Panthers.
“Our boys are up for it and I’m sure they are too after Monday night.
“I’m here to do a job and fill a spot until Korbin gets back.
Fa’alogo believes important momentum has been built from the Knights’ early-unbeaten record but consistency will be the key.
“We’ve always had the flying under the radar sort of tag, this year is probably no different," he said.
“I know we are off to a good start…but it’s a long season.
“This week is no different so we look forward to the challenge."
After two games on the road, a return to Hunter Stadium is timely.
“It’s nice to come back home and play in front of the fans," Fa'alogo admitted.
“It’s an always a good boost in confidence.
“To come home with three wins, it’s good for our confidence and great for our fans to come out on the week and support.”
With the suspension of Sims, Pat Vaivai gets a second crack at the NRL off the bench after his debut in Round 9 last year.
Fa’alogo praised the young forward for earning his chance in first grade after performing consistently in NSW Cup.
“Pat is a big, physical person and has obviously worked hard in the last two or three years he’s been here,” Fa'alogo said.
“He’s looking forward to the challenge and has been working hard in NSW Cup.
“He got Players’ Player for the last couple of weeks, so that shows that he’s pretty determined to get up to first grade.
“It’s great for Patty, he’s very excited.”
After the side’s strongest start to the season since 2006, Fa’alogo attributes a part of the Knights' recent success to tougher training sessions.
“I think the tempo and intensity has gone up a little bit,” he said.
“That’s the mindset we were going along with, is to challenge everyone.
“We go out there and we do the physical stuff on the weekend and training is no different.
“You train like you play, that’s a cliché that’s been around for years, and we tend to do that every week."
Saturday March 28 – All 3 grades at Hunter Stadium
Newcastle Knights v Penrith Panthers
Gates open: 10.30am
NSW Cup: 12.40pm
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Tickets: CLICK HERE
Hi-viz jersey: CLICK HERE