JACOB Saifiti didn’t have to look far for support – and motivation – when he was dropped to reserve grade in round five. His twin brother, teammate and housemate, Daniel, provides both.
Jacob spent two weeks out of coach Nathan Brown’s NRL team before returning off the bench in Newcastle’s 24-6 loss to the Roosters last Friday night. He is in line to come off the bench again against the Cowboys on Saturday night in Townsville and said the time in reserves had got him back on track.
“I started off the year good for the first few rounds and then the next two, I wasn’t up to the team standards,” Jacob said. “I think I just found that comfort zone, which I know is no good for the team, and Browny did the right thing. It was a good wake-up call.”
On the drop in form, he added: “We won and only just lost two games, and I thought ‘we’re doing good here’. I sort of slacked off and didn’t take the initiative on the field and just let other people do it. I thought I’d just be a part of it instead of really doing something. I’m sure I won’t do that again.”
Daniel started at prop on Friday night and has featured in every match this season for Newcastle, giving him bragging rights. And while Jacob said any sibling rivalry was not as strong these days, the brothers were still a source of motivation and support for each other.
“We’re more our own harshest critics,” he said. “Sometimes if Daniel makes more runs or more metres than me, he’ll sneak in a little sly comment, but it’s not like when we were younger. We support each other and I think that gives each other a good support base. If Daniel has a bad game or I do, we’ll be the first ones to give each other criticism, which is good I think.”
He said Daniel told him to “just knuckle down” after he was dropped.
“It would have been easy to go down there and feel sorry for myself but he said stay on your toes and get back in this team. It was a good motivation factor.”
Jacob admitted Daniel’s performances were also extra motivation.
”I think he’s been playing really good footy and the future is looking bright for him,” he said. “He’s a tad ahead of me now, he’s got that starting spot and I’m not just going to let him take it. I want to get there.”
The brothers, who hail from the Central Coast, moved to Mayfield, “500 metres away” from the Knights training base, midway through last year.
“We live just down the road – him, me and my partner,” Jacob said. “He’s third wheel at the moment, which is pretty funny, but we all get along well.
“We keep track of each other with our diet. Normally one of us is eating good and the other one might slack off so it’s good in that sense. We keep an eye on each other.”
Outside of football, Jacob said he and Daniel share a love of fishing and playing guitar and “pretty much the same food”.
“The only thing different about us actually, a weird fact, is he doesn’t like poached eggs and fried eggs and I do. He only likes scrambled.”
The brother, who are contracted to Newcastle until the end of 2018, are aiming to be part of Fiji’s World Cup campaign at the end of the year.
“Any time I can represent my family and heritage, I love it,” Jacob said.
“I didn’t play last year because I was injured but playing in 2015 was probably the best week of my life.”