Call it a friendly chat, a spray, or even a kick up the backside.
Whatever it was, NSW prop Daniel Saifiti said he deserved to be pulled aside by Knights coach Nathan Brown and reminded that he had let his standards slip since returning to Newcastle after his whirlwind turn on the State of Origin stage.
Apart from his game against Wests Tigers, when he ran for 145 metres and made 29 tackles in a 28-26 loss, Saifiti has been disappointed with his efforts in losses to the Bulldogs, Roosters and Sea Eagles.
The 23-year-old giant attributes it to poor preparation but he is paying more attention to detail this week in the lead-up to their game against Parramatta at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday night.
“I definitely haven’t been doing what got me into Origin… I’ve sat down with the coaches and had a real heart-to-heart talk, and it was a bit of a reality check to be honest with you,” Saifiti said on Wednesday.
“Just what I was doing before I was playing Origin – my prep and working hard – I was probably guilty of just thinking everything was going to happen.
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“I played at the highest level and was thinking coming back to club footy it was just going to happen. I just wasn’t doing off the field what I was doing that got me into Origin.
“It was a reality check but probably one I did need.”
Saifiti and Blues brother David Klemmer will be expected to lead the charge as Newcastle try to stay alive for at least another week.
“I think it’s something we can get back. The last time we lost five in a row, we won the next six, so we definitely haven’t given up,” Saifiti said.
“The boys, and especially me, we hate letting down people. We’ve got such a good home base so to get these results for them, it’s disappointing.”
Saifiti’s pack partner James Gavet feels grateful to have retained his spot on the bench despite what he describes as his own “patchy” form during their five-game losing streak.
“We all try to improve our game, and I’ve been trying to get as much feedback from the coaches, good or bad, as I can,” Gavet said.
“I think over the last couple of weeks they’ve been telling me I’ve been going all right, so if I can build off that and hopefully add a bit more to the team, then I’ll be happy.
I played at the highest level and was thinking coming back to club footy it was just going to happenDaniel Saifiti
“It's always a privilege to put on this jersey. It’s not like anyone’s been taking their opportunities lightly, we just haven’t been firing on all cylinders lately.
“I’m grateful to be named again and I just want to do the coach proud, and obviously all the boys and the fans.”
Gavet said the 11th-placed Knights still believe they can win enough games in the last five rounds to sneak into the finals.
“It’s definitely still in our grasp, and if we honestly didn’t believe it was still attainable, we may as well just pack up and leave now,” Gavet said.
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“We still have plenty of belief. We have made it hard on ourselves but like I said before, we easily know that our best is good enough to be in the top eight.”
Apart from trying to resuscitate their season, Saifiti hopes twin brother Jacob gets to celebrate his 50th NRL game in style.
Newcastle’s 30-6 loss to Manly at Lottoland last Saturday was the first NRL game the Fijian internationals had played together since May 19 last year, and they will again be team-mates when Jacob brings up his half-century against the Eels.
“When we were on the field together, the game was pretty much unwinnable so that was disappointing, but it was pretty surreal standing next to him in the defensive line, and in attack too,” Daniel said.
“It was a cool moment for us and our family, but hopefully it’s a better occasion this week... I’ve been playing together with him since juniors, so it was good to have him back.
“Some people might not have come back from the things he’s come back from – injuries and off-field stuff – so it’s a credit to him and how far he’s come.”