Saifiti believes he has turned corner after Knights win

Scott Bailey |

Daniel Saifiti (3rd left) scored a crucial second-half try to help Newcastle beat the Warriors.
Daniel Saifiti (3rd left) scored a crucial second-half try to help Newcastle beat the Warriors.

Newcastle prop Daniel Saifiti believes he is getting his mojo back, after admitting he was well below his best to start the NRL season.

Saifiti scored the decisive second-half try in Sunday’s 14-8 win over the Warriors, before the Knights defence held on for a gritty victory at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The former NSW State of Origin prop is the first to admit he has some ground to make up after a poor start to the year.

Saifiti has topped 100 metres in a game just once this year, while already making more errors than in all of 2023.

Defensively, he has also missed more tackles per match than last year.

Daniel Saifiti dives in for his try against the Warriors. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

“I started the season probably not bad, but not great,” Saifiti told AAP. 

“Then I had a pretty bad patch. And then last couple weeks, I’ve just made it real simple and felt a lot better the last couple of weeks.”

Coach Adam O’Brien labelled Saifiti one of the Knights’ best on Sunday, with the win their second in a row without injured captain Kalyn Ponga.

“D-Saf was excellent to start the game and then came up with some really big plays that may go unnoticed, but they work in our defensive system,” O’Brien said.

“He’s the first to admit that he’s been a little bit quiet. But I thought he was good last week too. 

“He’s worked really hard at training the whole way through. We just couldn’t quite put our finger on why it wasn’t working out for him. 

“But I feel like he’s turned the corner the last two weeks, he has been exceptional.”

Saifiti said he had not considered his chances of an Origin recall this year, following his selection omission last year, after missing the 2022 series through injury.

“I’m not even thinking about Origin, not at all,” Saifiti said. 

“It was disappointing last year, I just wasn’t playing good enough. 

“This year I have just not been thinking about it. If I have a good few weeks, you never know what happens.”

Saifiti’s brother Jacob is some chance of holding his spot in the NSW pack, and is expected to return from a foot injury against Wests Tigers next Saturday.

That would give him two games to impress before new coach Michael Maguire names his first Blues side in late May.

Fellow NSW representative Tyson Frizell is also expected to return from a hamstring injury.