Daniel Saifiti has revealed tough love from coach Nathan Brown and his teammates inspired him to his match-turning performance in Newcastle’s 30-4 thumping of Parramatta on Saturday.
The 22-year-old behemoth was involved in everything in what was arguably the best game of his young career.
As well as carting the ball for 171m, he also scored a barge-over try in the second-half and saved another with a bone-rattling tackle on Peni Terepo.
Saifiti revealed he had received a much-needed wake-up call after being dropped by Brown two weeks ago against the Gold Coast.
As well, before the game skippers Aidan Guerra and Jamie Buhrer had cornered him and challenged him to rise to the occasion.
“This week with Herman (Ese’ese) being out, the boys challenged me to step up,” Saifiti said.
“Herman’s probably been our best prop this year and with him out I stepped up a gear.
“Aidan and JB told me that if we wanted to win, I had to step up.
“I thought me and Ox (Jacob Lillyman) laid a good platform for the team.”
Saifiti was the best player on field as the Knights snapped their four-game losing streak at ANZ Stadium.
He said Brown had lit a fire under him after dropping him to reserve grade against the Titans and led him to reevaluate himself.
“Brownie came up to me after the game and said dropping me was probably the best thing that’s happened to me,” Saifiti said.
“I’ve worked hard over the past two weeks and I think I improved last week and improved this week.
“I’m not going to rest on my laurels. We’ve got a big pack next week in the Roosters so I have to step up again.”
Brown said it was the kind of performance he expected from Saifiti week in, week out.
“He was outstanding,” Brown said.
“The Gold Coast drop may have been a lightbulb moment for Daniel Saifiti. But he played tonight how I expect him to play.
“He was pretty fair last week against Cronulla, he was our best player tonight.
“Since that moment against the Coast he’s certainly doing things a little bit different.”
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