Brotherhood is a word ofter used to describe the bond between teammates in the game of rugby league.
But it’s a term that takes on a much more literal meaning at the Newcastle Knights with three sets of brothers poised to take the field on Saturday against the Brisbane Broncos.
Tariq and Korbin Sims, Daniel and Jacob Saifiti and Pat and Sione Mata’utia will make up almost third of the entire team.
For the youngest of the Mata’utia brothers, Sione, there’s a certain energy and excitement it adds to not only the siblings themselves, but the entire squad.
“I wouldn’t say it gives us an advantage, but it provides a little hype,” he said.
“It’s very exciting to have your sibling play next to you.
“For the siblings themselves, it probably hypes them up as well.”
Mata’utia is particularly proud to continue a long held tradition of eminent brothers playing in the red and blue.
“I think the Club has always been like that, there have been a few sets of brothers in the past,” he said reflecting on the Club’s history.
“Now to add another two sets is awesome and really does bring a family-orientated feel to the Club."
The youngest of the Knights’ Mata’utia trio looks forward to the extraordinary occasion and reveals it provides added motivation to be at his best.
“I get really emotional before any game," he said.
“To have my brother on the field, it’s something that we’ve always dreamed of and it feels like there’s a protection type of thing and that you have to play well.
“There’s all type of mixed emotions when you play.”
Jacob Saifiti predicts the chemistry between the brothers will provide a strong platform for the rest of the team.
“With Daniel and I teaming up and the other brother having the camaraderie amongst each other, the other boys can work off us,” he said.
“I think the team can feed off our energy and play off the back of us.”
Jacob believes working so closely with his twin Daniel pushes him to perform at his peak.
“I’m comfortable with all the boys, but with Daniel it’s on another level,” he said.
“We know each other inside and out.
“We are probably each other’s biggest critics to be honest. After every game we are pretty honest with each other and give each other feedback, which is good.”
He believes having such strong family ties, provides an advantage to developing team cohesion.
“What every team is trying to get is that brotherhood, so having three sets of brothers being in the team, it goes a long way to being that type of family feel,” Jacob said.
Sunday’s win against the Wests Tigers was the first time since Round 2 the twins graced the NRL stage together with the Saifitis determined to build on their efforts.
“When we are on together we just feed off each other,” he said.
“I love challenging myself, so I’m looking forward to it."
The incredible odds of multiple family members playing rugby league at the elite level is not lost on forward Korbin Sims.
He considers an amazing feat and something to be proud of.
“It’s kind of cool, there are plenty of players to chose from and to have so much talent in each of the three families, it’s rare and it’s cool and is a credit to each player,” he said.
“We have three sets of brothers playing and are lucky to be in the position we are.
“It’s pretty rare and I’m looking forward to it.”
He agrees the fact there are so many siblings within the Club fosters a family friendly environment.
“Newcastle is a very close town and I guess you can have that family feel,” he said.
But in the heat of battle, Tariq is just another teammate.
“It’s more the lead up to the game where I think about that. It’s always good and I’m always proud to play alongside any of my siblings,” Korbin added.
Korbin recalls the backyard rivalry between he, Tariq and elder brother Ashton and says an element of that competitiveness has carried into their life as professional athletes.
“It’s still there and we are still competitive towards one another, but it’s a high level of professionalism that Tariq and I both have,” he said.
After Sunday’s satisfying victory at Hunter Stadium against Wests Tigers, Sims says the Knights are eager to produce another quality performance against the Broncos this weekend at Suncorp Stadium.
“We will be working this week on preparing as a team for the Broncos and we are going to go up there and if we stick to our game plan, we will win the game,” he said.
“That will make Nathan Brown and Newcastle fans very happy.”
For the first time in Club history, three sets of brothers will take to the field.
While the brothers played together in the Auckland Nines, it is a Club first in a premiership match.
The last time three sets of brothers appeared in one first grade team was in 1994 when Canterbury fielded Darren and Jason Smith, Steven and Glen Hughes and Ben and Simon Gillies.