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Like 'being in a washing machine': Saifiti cleans up getting down and dirty

The frantic nature of Newcastle's gutsy win over Manly had Jacob Saifiti in a spin as he tackled anything that moved out in in the middle of Lottoland.

Back-rower Sione Mata'utia was taken from the field with a head knock just before half-time after the Knights had already reshuffled personnel when winger Edrick Lee (forearm) left for hospital X-rays in the sixth minute.

"A few of the boys went down pretty early and they told me at half-time I was going to play big minutes," Saifiti told

Named on the bench, he ended up playing 61 minutes and making 48 tackles – only two less than hooker Andrew McCullough, who played all 80.

"It was in a washing machine to be honest that whole game. I was trying to tackle my best, get up and tackle again."

Saifiti, who is off contract but hoping to seal a deal soon to re-sign with the Knights, made 110 metres with 12 runs so he was a handful in attack as well.

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"They told me that every time we were coming out of trouble to just get behind the ball and save my energy for defence. It was a tough game."

Saifiti doesn't usually eat a big breakfast but he's now thankful he did on Sunday morning before the drive south to Sydney's northern beaches, saying "the extra bananas helped".

His efforts drew praise from coach Adam O'Brien with his willingness to get down and dirty for so long in the middle.

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"Like everyone else I was so tired out there but they trusted me to do something for them out there – hold the middle - and I did my best."

He's seen his twin Daniel play Origin for NSW twice last year and he knows it's on his own back if he wants to try to follow those footsteps. Wins like 14-12 over Manly in dire circumstances help.

"I just wanted to play consistent footy this year. Last year I was hampered by injuries and before that I was playing a lot of NSW Cup," the 24-year-old said.

After playing 30 NRL games across 2016-17, Saifiti played just 15 the past two seasons.

"So this year my aim was to play NRL every week. If I was going to be in the side I didn't want any poor games.

"I want to give myself every opportunity to keep my form up each week. I'm pretty happy so far but there's still improvement to come but I'm excited."

There is no shirking from the fact the Knights' next assignment is premiership-leading Parramatta will be their biggest test of 2020. But at least Newcastle will finally be home at McDonald Jones Stadium.

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"The Manly game was a good game to get ourselves ready for this week," Saifiti said.

"We just came up against Marty [Taupau] and Addin [Fonua-Blake] and next week we go up against Reagan [Campbell-Gillard] and Junior Paulo.

"They are also strong off the bench. We're going to have to really turn up and perform again."

And that means recovery will be a premium concern this week.

"I'll just ice my body a lot more and relax. My shoulder is a bit sore but other than that I feel really good," Saifiti said. "I'll also hop in the spa a few times."