Saifiti brothers' unbreakable bond driving Knights

By BARRY TOOHEY

They are as close as any two brothers have ever been.

So as Danny Buderus was hanging the medal named in his honour for Knights' player of the year around Jacob Saifiti's neck during Newcastle's awards' night on Tuesday night at the club's resort base on the Sunshine Coast, Saifiti instantly thought of his twin brother Daniel.

"I wouldn't be here without him," an emotional Saifiti told the Newcastle Herald. "Even though he is my twin brother, I still look up to him. He pushes me every day.

"Winning this award - he can take some ownership of that because he has played such a big part in it.

"Every week when I play alongside of him, it gives me that much energy knowing I'm there with him and I don't care what anyone says, he is the best prop in the comp.

"Every week, pulling on the jersey and getting ready to go out and play, when I look at him getting ready, it just up-lifts me knowing I'm going out to play with him.

PROUD: Jacob and Daniel Saifiti share a moment together after Jacob was named as the Danny Buderus Medal winner on the Sunshine Coast on Tuesday night.

"I hope he thinks the same when he looks at me. I know I'm going out there hellbent on not letting him down.

"But it's not only him either, I just want to be a good player that everyone wants to play with. That's something I've tried to live by this year."

Winning the medal, which is voted on by the Knights coaching staff on a weekly 3,2,1 basis, was a validation of how much Saifiti has grown as a player and a person at the club.

He began the season off the bench but after 11 rounds, coach Adam O'Brien felt his impact was needed from the word go and pushed David Klemmer back to the bench.

"The brothers really push and inspire each other to perform and Jacob just made it too difficult to leave him on the bench," O'Brien said.

After winning the medal ahead of Connor Watson, Daniel Saifiti, Kalyn Ponga and Jayden Brailey, Saifiti was still struggling to come to terms with it.

"It hasn't sunk in yet - it's so surreal," he said. "The first five games, I didn't get a point so I was thinking it's not going to be me. I gave myself no chance. But in the last 10 games, I think I polled points in all of them which got me over the line.

"Daniel was unlucky. This year and last year, he missed some games and was still top two or three."

Saifiti, who is heading home on Saturday to re-unite with his partner Immogen Rodier and their dog Koba, said he was looking forward to a break before returning for the pre-season and striving to further improve as an individual and a team.

"Coming away with all the boys, we've become real close and we can hang onto how far we have come as a group and take it into the next pre-season," he said. "We are building nicely and ready to work hard and go to another level again.

"For me personally, if I don't back it up and build on this next year, this year will have been for nothing.

"I want to cement that number 8 jersey and Daniel and I, we can build something nice next year I think. We've got something special there with this team.

"I've got a few goals in mind but that's only going to come off team success."

Asked about wearing a Blues jersey alongside his brother, Saifiti said: "Sometimes, I think that maybe it could happen one day. I'm not one to dream too big. It comes down to my form but what the Blues did this year, it's going to be hard to crack.

"But behind Daniel and I leading the Knights to win the comp, a Blues jersey together is our next goal after that."


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