Saifiti's swift step up
Newcastle Knights prop Daniel Saifiti has never once played in the Intrust Super Premiership.
When you have already been named to start in your first NRL game after just four appearances off the bench, who needs reserve grade?
Saifiti has been impressive in his jump from the NYC to first grade in 2016 – where's he averaged 70 metres and 21.5 tackles per game.
It's also helped him and identical twin Jacob carve out their own identities in the rugby league world.
With Kade Snowden injured and Pauli Pauli suspended, Knights coach Nathan Brown has opted to start young Daniel in the front row instead of the seasoned Jack Stockwell and Mickey Paea to play the Sea Eagles on Anzac Day.
"Growing up Jacob was probably the more-known twin but now to be playing alongside him in the NRL has been unreal, and something we didn't think would come this quick" Saifiti told NRL.com.
At 19, Saifiti already weighs 117 kilograms and plans on using every bit of his hulking frame against the might of the Sea Eagles forward pack.
"Being able to play in the team has been unreal but to be given the opportunity to start is on another level. I'm both nervous and excited and to play on Anzac Day is another big thing.
"It's been good to be noticed by the coach. Manly have a big pack too so coming up against them is going to be a challenge in itself for sure especially when you're coming up against Marty Taupau and Nate Myles."
"Being only five games into my NRL career the nerves have slowly eased as the weeks go by."
The Knights may be coming off a 53-0 Broncos shellacking last weekend but Saifiti offered insight into how Newcastle's inexperienced squad are embracing the steep learning curve as their first grade education continues.
"We just have to get over it as soon as possible. If we think about it too much it'll haunt us in the following weeks so we have put it to bed straight away. Every game is hard as it is so there's no need focusing on the past," he said of the Round 7 defeat.
"We never use being inexperienced as an excuse but we know we have that on our side. We know that we're going to get better as the season goes on and that's been one way we have stayed positive.
"The vibe at training too, you'd be surprised by how positive it is even though the results haven't been going our way."
Saifiti is also hoping to play for Fiji in the upcoming representative round – an opportunity he was afforded this time last year.
The Entrance Tigers junior's Test debut came as a shock at the time namely because of the NRL players he played with and against.
Saifiti said he was in awe of his fellow teammates for the most part and admitted he would've enjoyed it more if he ripped in like he's planning on doing come May 7 against Papua New Guinea.
"I was just happy to be there to be honest because I was playing with NRL players," he said. "But this year now that I have NRL experience I'm definitely going to rip in more and use that experience to benefit the team out somehow."