The big hits just keep on coming for the luckless Newcastle Knights with in-form prop Daniel Saifiti facing up to six weeks on the sideline after damaging ligaments in his foot against Parramatta.
Saifiti’s surprise injury is a further devastating blow for the club as they prepare to take on the Sydney Roosters, a side who boast one of the NRL’s most feared forward packs, at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.
Still on a high after his powerhouse performance in the 30-4 win over the Eels last weekend, Saifiti complained of some soreness in his foot on Monday.
But x-rays failed to detect any damage and it was thought the injury would improve and he would be cleared to take on the Roosters.
But as the week wore on, there was no improvement with further follow-up tests revealing the damaged ligaments.
He was sporting a moon boot on Friday as the side completed its final preparations with the Captain’s run at the stadium.
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“It’s obviously disappointing for “D Saf” and the team, particularly as he was hitting his straps again form-wise in recent weeks,” coach Nathan Brown said.
“It was a bit sore after the Eels game but the severity has probably surprised us a bit because the initial x-rays were clear. It is looking like a four to six week injury which is disappointing.
“But the rest of the boys have trained well this week and will be up for the challenge against the Roosters.”
Saifiti’s absence will give veteran prop Jacob Lillyman a reprieve after he was originally left out of the 17 for the game.
While he has plenty of respect for the Roosters pack, Knights co-captain Jamie Buhrer said a big focus for his team during the week was trying to combat their opponents’ kicking game.
Several of the Roosters’ tries in their 38-8 round three thrashing of the Knights came from pin-point kicks.
“That’s something the Roosters have going for them - one of their added weapons in their arsenal,” Buhrer said.
“They’ve got Cooper Cronk and Luke Keary who have great kicking games, short and long, and they’ve got some aerial specialists to take advantage of that.
“Five of the six tries [in round 3] came off kicks so it’s important we do a good job there on our kick defence.
“We have put some work into that. It’s an area we know we have to improve in, not just for the Roosters but as a whole.”
Buhrer claimed the Eels win was a positive leading into this game.
“It’s done well for our confidence and we took some steps forward there,” Buhrer said.