Many who have been following the NYC Newcastle Knights this season could have mistaken they’re seeing double on the field since the side was boosted by identical twins Daniel and Jacob Saifiti.
The Club has seen it’s share of successful brothers like Matt and Kurt Gidley, Andrew and Matthew Johns and the recently re-signed Mata’utias, but has never had a set of twins play in the same team.
The pair grew up on the Central Coast and played their junior football with the Entrance Tigers before joining up with the Under 20s toward the end of 2014.
Since joining the Club, the brothers have flourished under coach Troy Pezet and the team’s support staff, making names for themselves as tough and dedicated members of the young Knights’ pack.
Daniel said coach Pezet instills a sense of passion in his team and values the importance of having fun and enjoying time with their teammates.
“But he reminds us that we’re in a competition and we’re there to win games, so at the same time it’s tough and reserved,” Daniel adds.
For Jacob, the highlight of his time with the Club has been the opportunity to move to Newcastle and form bonds with his teammates that hail from as far as Queensland and New Zealand.
Inseparable off the football field, the brothers even play alongside each other, with Daniel as prop and Jacob in the second row.
They don’t claim to experience twin intuition during games, but maintain a comfortable run of order on the football paddock.
“If he takes a run, I like to take the next run after, or vice versa,” Daniel said.
“We usually know when we are angry at each other or make a mistake, we just give each other a look.”
Meanwhile the boys, who tower at 193cms and tip the scales at more than 100 kilograms, say their teammates have developed their own ways to tell them apart without their numbered football jersey.
“At training, I usually wear white and red boots and Daniel usually wears white and green boots, but I think they are starting to get the hang of it now,” Jacob said with a grin.
The Saifitis both have strong aspirations to take their football to the highest level and look to the success of NRL stars for inspiration.
“Last year it was either Sam Burgess or Sonny Bill Williams, but overall all time I’d say Petero Civoniceva,” Jacob said.
“For myself at the Club, it would be Beau Scott. I play on the right edge, so I try to emulate my game off his a bit,” Daniel added.
While NYC strength and conditioning coach Mick Reid says identifying the twins correctly initially created some headaches, they’ve both been quality and well respected additions to the squad.
“The twins share a competitiveness that’s pushed their football to the next level," Reid said.
“When you first meet them, being identical it was pretty hard.
“The boys still have trouble with it, but the fact my younger brothers were identical twins, I kind of pick up little traits, so I don’t have a problem with it.”
Since arriving at the Club after playing on the Central Coast, the pair dedicated themselves to becoming fitter competitors and shed more than 20 kilograms each.
“They are keen to be rugby league players and they know their work and their tools,” Reid said.
“I think they are going to be a couple of really good props for the future for us.
“They are only young still so they still have a bit of work to do.”
So working under mentors ex-Newcastle and International prop Craig Smith, an ex-Knights’ hooker and front rower in Reid, it’s sure to give them a valuable edge.
“We’ll show them the ropes and show them a few little tricks. Hopefully it will work for those two guys,” Reid said.
The sibling rivalry has also brought out phenomenal results.
“They always ask each other what they lifted in the gym and the other one says they’ll do better,” Reid added.
“When we do conditioning, they’ll be a apart from each other, but you always see that little sly look over to see if the other one is beating the other one.
“It’s always good competition, especially when you’re playing with your brother."
The young Knights take on the Penrith Panthers this Saturday in a three-game fixture at Hunter Stadium.