Jacob Saifiti set for the middle

Newcastle Knight Jacob Saifiti has been named at lock this weekend and is ready for a hard-fought match through the middle against the Penrith Panthers.

With veteran Jeremy Smith ruled out by a calf injury, the towering 20-year-old is confident in his ability to match it with the Panthers’ pack and looks forward to the opportunity to prove himself as a hard-working forward.

 “This year when I have come off the bench, especially these last couple of weeks, I have played in the middle,” he said.

“It shouldn’t be a shock.”

Saifiti has been kept on his toes with a number of positional shifts throughout the season, but knows it’s all a valuable learning experience and part of playing in the NRL.  

“I have played there (middle) all my juniors. I’m obviously happy to play edge and to play first grade this year, but think the middle is where I belong,” he said.

 “I have had this discussion with Browny (coach Nathan Brown) and I think that’s where I’m meant to play, in the middle.

“I’m weighing around 117kg at the moment so whether I need to get bigger or get fitter, we’ll decide that in the pre-season.”

The Knights aim to bring plenty of energy and intensity to Sunday’s contest in order to secure a win. 

“They (Panthers) have a big, young pack, so they are enthusiastic,” he said.

“We will need to match that enthusiasm.

“They are really strong through the middle so we’ll have to do our job.

“We just have to play 80-minutes.

“If we can stick in there for longer than we have been, then I think we are a good shot.”

The Knights will celebrate James McManus' career this Sunday, with the flying Scotsman doing one final lap to farewell the fans before the NRL match kicks off at Hunter Stadium.

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v PENRITH PANTHERS

Date: Sunday August 14
Gates open: 11.30am
NYC: 11.40am
Kick-off: 2.00pm
Venue: Hunter Stadium
TICKETS HERE