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Klemmer in, Barnett out for Newcastle's clash with Brisbane

Newcastle Knights' Jayden Brailey addresses the media in Newcastle | Newcastle Herald | August 9, 2022

Newcastle prop Daniel Saifiti is expecting front-row partner David Klemmer to return with a bang after the Knights enforcer's tumultuous few days last week.

Klemmer missed Newcastle's 14-10 win over Wests Tigers on Sunday after being stood down and then sanctioned by the Knights for refusing to be interchanged and exchanging words with club trainer Hayden Knowles against the Bulldogs.

He spent a few days in exile unable to train with the side while management dealt with the matter.

But with the dust settled on the incident late last week after Klemmer accepted a suspended fine, Saifiti reckons the 191-game prop will be out to make his mark against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

"Klem, he is a [veteran] now, he is going to leave that behind. I'm sure it's all in the past," Saifiti said.

"He will do what he does best and play good every week.

"It would have been a tough week for him and his family, he didn't deserve to go through that.

"The right decision was made. He is back with his teammates and he is back to kill it with us again."

Saifiti and other players have slammed suggestions the playing group was divided over the club's handling of the Klemmer incident, saying the situation actually had the opposite effect.

"It brought us together," Saifiti said.

"It was a turmoil of a time from the week before, but we spoke about coming together, defending well together and we did that. It was good to see it come to play."

Knights prop Daniel Saifiti embraces David Klemmer.

Despite Klemmer not featuring in Newcastle's breakthrough win at Campbelltown, Knights centre Bradman Best said his return to training on Friday midway through a field session provided a "massive" boost ahead of the match.

"He had a few days off there and we couldn't see him, but he walked into training and everything stopped - everyone got in around it and we just said, 'Lets go! Klem's back!'," Best said.

"He brings such a presence and so much experience.

"He is someone I look up to.

"For him to come back and do what he loves, because he loves his footy, to see that smile on his face - that brought us closer."

Klemmer's inclusion came as the Knights announced Mitch Barnett required thumb surgery and would miss Saturday's match.

Barnett will have surgery on Wednesday. The Knights are hopeful the 28-year-old, who is off to the Warriors next year, hasn't played his last game for the club and will miss only two weeks.

Klemmer has gone straight back into the starting side despite Jacob Saifiti's strong showing against the Tigers.

Starting in place of Klemmer, Saifiti made 150 metres from 14 runs, including 58 post-contact metres, and 31 tackles.

"Probably our best player, [or] one of," Daniel Saifiti said of his brother's performance on Sunday.

"Me and him love starting together. He brings that line speed and that energy, all his off the ball efforts like his kick pressure and inside pressure on the halves and stuff go unnoticed. But the boys appreciate it and the coaches appreciate it heaps."

Saifiti said it mattered little who started the game but thought his brother likely lifted after being handed the No.8 jersey last week.

"It's a bit hard when it's me, Jacob and Klem, one of us has to miss out," he said.

"After his Origin high and coming back and coming off the bench, I'm sure getting that starting role he was going to relish it, and he did."

Mat Croker will start at lock in place of Barnett.

Adam Clune comes in at halfback to replace Jake Clifford, who had surgery on Tuesday after fracturing his arm late in the Tigers game.

The side's back-line remains unchanged despite Edrick Lee and Hymel Hunt returning from injury.

They are both in the extended 22-man match squad.

Knights (vs Brisbane)

1 Tex Hoy

2 Enari Tuala

3 Dane Gagai

4 Bradman Best

5 Dom Young

6 Anthony Milford

7 Adam Clune

8 David Klemmer

9 Jayden Brailey (C)

10 Daniel Saifiti

11 Tyson Frizell

12 Brodie Jones

13 Mathew Croker

BENCH

14 Phoenix Crossland

15 Jacob Saifiti

16 Pasami Saulo

17 Simi Sasagi

EXTENDED SQUAD

18 Jack Johns

19 Sauaso Sue

20 Chris Randall

21 Edrick Lee

22 Hymel Hunt

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