NEWCASTLE pack leader Daniel Saifiti says he and twin brother Jacob never seriously considered testing the market before agreeing to extend their contracts with the Knights by two seasons.
The Knights announced on Monday that the towering siblings, already signed for one more year, will now be on deck until at least the end of the 2020 campaign.
Five other Knights – Mitch Barnett, Nathan Ross, Danny Levi and new signings Herman Ese’ese, Connor Watson and Aidan Guerra – are contracted for the same time frame, while Kalyn Ponga is locked in until the end of 2021.
The eight players, and potentially Sione Mata’utia as well, will provide coach Nathan Brown with a nucleus around whom he hopes to fashion a team capable of consistently challenging for a play-off position.
Daniel Saifiti, recovering from a shoulder reconstruction he underwent almost two months ago, said it was an “easy decision” to re-sign with the Knights.
“We love it here in Newcastle,” he said. “I’ve said it before, I can’t imagine being anywhere else.
“To be honest, we never really thought about seeing what else was out there. It never crossed our minds.
“We just wanted to secure our long-term future with the Knights and stay in Newy.”
We just wanted to secure our long-term future with the Knights and stay in Newy.DANIEL SAIFITI
Saifiti was confident that be the time he has to negotiate his next contract, Newcastle would be consistently at the other end of the points table.
Knights coach Nathan Brown said it was pleasing that the Saifitis had joined the likes of Levi and Barnett in showing faith in the club’s future.
“We certainly didn’t want them to go on the market, that’s for sure, because I think everyone would agree they’re young players who’ve got good futures in the game,” Brown said.
Having played their junior careers with The Entrance Tigers on the Central Coast, the Saifitis were thrown in the deep end when they made their NRL debuts in round one last season.
They have been mainstays ever since, Daniel making 43 top-grade appearances and Jacob 39.
Both were expected to feature in Fiji’s World Cup campaign before Daniel’s surgery ruled him out.
He said it was “weird” to be apart from Jacob for such an extended period.
“We spent 24 hours a day together for 20 years, so it’s a bit different,” he said. “But we still stay in contact every day through Facebook or by text.”
Jacob, in camp with the Bati preparing for their World Cup opener against the United States on Saturday, said he was “excited” about the prospect of lining up with the host of new players Newcastle have recruited for 2018.
“We have a strong side on paper and hopefully we’ll have a good couple of years ahead of us,” Jacob said.