Newcastle Knights rugby league: Mitch Barnett and Jacob Saifiti shock inclusions for clash against Penrith Panthers

BOOST: Mitch Barnett has been named on the Knights bench for Sunday.

BOOST: Mitch Barnett has been named on the Knights bench for Sunday.

BARNSTORMING back-rower Mitch Barnett will make an early return from injury for the Knights’ clash against Penrith at McDonald Johns Stadium on Sunday.

And incredibly he will be joined on the interchange bench by Jacob Saifiti.

Saifiti was carried off on a medicab with a neck injury in the first half of the 34-20 breakthrough win over Canberra.

After feeling “pins and needles” down the side of his neck and arm, Saifiti was taken to hospital where he was later cleared of serious injury and discharged.

In an amazing recovery he was named on Tuesday, will train Wednesday and baring a mishap will take his place in the 17. Barnett damaged his ankle in the 24-12 defeat to the Cowboys on April 22, and it was initially feared he would miss up to eight weeks. 

He has been one of the Knights’ most consistent forwards and comes in to the 17 for back-up hooker Tyler Randell. Sam Stone (rested) replaces Lachlan Fitzgibbon (knee) in the second-row.