Danny Levi is no stranger to the New Zealand Warriors, as he is set to come up against some of his former teammates when the nib Newcastle Knights encounter them at home on Saturday.
“I know a few of them; I played a bit of junior footy with them,” Levi explained.
“They are my home team so it is always good to go up against them.
“They are all the fellas that made it in New Zealand and I had to look for my opportunity elsewhere, so it is good to show how far I have come and go up against them.”
The 21-year-old knows he’ll have to be at his best, admitting the visitors have weapons all over the park.
“A lot of people have been saying they have run into a bit of a bad patch at the moment but you never know what to expect from the Warriors,” stated Levi.
“We’ve got to be on our game and prepare for everything.”
Especially against childhood hero and opposite number, Issac Luke.
“I looked up to him when I was a junior; I think every Kiwi hooker pretty much looks up to him,” smiled Levi.
“He is pretty much the number one Kiwi hooker and he’s the one everyone looks up to, it’s good to go up against him.”
Levi has been working hard to improve his game and it’s starting to show with the young hooker coming off the bench last week to record 30 tackles in 59 minutes.
The number one tackler for the Knights said it’s easier when you have plenty of support from your teammates.
“The boys gave me a lot of go forward, a lot of quick play the balls and I reaped the rewards off the back of it so it was good,” Levi explained.
“I've been working really hard but it’s not just me, our forward pack is getting good go forwards, the Saifitis have been outstanding so I am just reaping the rewards off the back of it.”
The 21-year-old admits starting on the sidelines has a different feel to it.
“Eventually I would like to be able to fill that role for 80 minutes but at the moment it is good," Levi commented.
“I come on, there are a few tired forwards and I try and expose that, but at the moment JB (Jamie Buhrer) is doing a really good job and the rotation is working so I’m happy to keep it the same.
“You have to go in with a different mindset coming off the bench because you have to be prepared without even starting the game.
“Everyone is already up with the speed of the game and you’ve got to catch up when you’re out there so I feel like I’m getting better with it and hopefully I can do the same tomorrow.”
Meanwhile Levi admits while his focus is with the Knights, the possibility of playing in the World Cup is at the back of his mind.
“It has definitely been on my mind but I’m still 100 per cent trying to get a win for the Knights,” added Levi.
“It is definitely there and it’s getting closer to it so I’m obviously going to be thinking about it but my main job is to make sure I am focused on this game.”
In team news, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Jack Cogger drop from the 21-man squad.
Kenny-Dowall has been ruled out with hamstring tightness, with Chanel Mata'utia taking his place on the wing.
Footy action kicks off at 12.45pm at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday with NYC before NRL kick-off at 3pm.