Knights Nines a family affair
Successful family ties are not a new phenomenon at the Newcastle Knights.
From brothers Matthew and Andrew Johns to Kurt and Mathew Gidley, Knights fans have relished watching siblings perform in the red and blue.
But it’s a new wave of family talent that’s swept the Club that’s creating plenty of excitement.
On Thursday, three sets of brothers were named to take the field at the Auckland Nines tournament next weekend.
Representing the Sims family is Tariq and Korbin, for the Mat’utia clan, Chanel, Pat and Sione as well as fresh-faced Saifiti twins Daniel and Jacob.
The latter bursting onto the scene after completing their first fulltime pre-season with the NRL squad.
It is the sheer size and athletic ability of the Saifiti brothers that has astounded accomplished Knights' forward Tariq Sims.
“Their size and speed is very deceptive. They are 115 kilograms each and move like a back rower,” he said.
“We’ve taken a pretty young side and I’m excited to see what the boys produce.
“I’m looking forward to getting over there, I love New Zealand.
“I’m really excited to get the opportunity to play.”
While Tariq and his brother Korbin contribute experience and seniority to the side, there are five players in the squad are yet to make NRL debuts.
“I’m a bit more excited for those boys because they’ll be able to play in front of those big crowds,” Sims added.
For the towering 19-year-old Saifitis, who’ve already earned international honours with the Fiji Bati team, the chance to play at the Auckland Nines tournament is a dream come true.
“It really hasn’t sunk in yet. Browny (coach Nathan Brown) told us today and I’m still buzzing from it,” Daniel said.
“It’s exciting getting to play in front of the big crowds and play with guys you look up to.
“It’s going to be an unreal experience.”
Sharing the experience with his twin is a satisfying moment for Jacob who looks forward to showcasing the pair’s unique chemistry on field.
“It’s good to play alongside Daniel,” Jacob said.
“We know each other’s games inside and out and if we get the chance to be on the field at the same time, we will do it as we usually do, and that will be backing each other up.”
“I think it’s pretty exciting and good for the Club.”
After an explosive performance at last year’s tournament, the Mata’utia trio will be back on the park to add flair to the side’s outside backs.
“It’s my second year with the boys,” Pat Mata’utia said about his brothers Sione and Chanel.
“It’s a good feeling, playing with your siblings.
“I’ve played with Chanel a lot, but not so much Sione who’s been in the top grade."
Having experienced the speed and action of the tournament last year, Mata’utia is confident the squad’s youngest members will learn plenty from the opportunity.
“They’d be over the moon as it’s close to having an NRL game just with less players. I think they will be happy to be out there,” he said.
“I’m excited to get to play with players who I haven’t played with yet.
“It’s a great experience to play with them and can’t wait to do it this year.”