Daniel Saifiti (MID): NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS

The last man (kinda) standing…

With Barnett and Klemmer out the door, the Knights forward pack looks to one man to provide leadership and grunt. Will he rise to the challenge, or fade away?

Coming off a disappointing 2022 campaign, Daniel Saifiti looks set to return to form after the departure of workhorses Mitch Barnett and David Klemmer. Yes, they added Adam Elliott, but this pack is in need of some serious metres and leadership – enter big Dan.

In 2020 and 2021, Saifiti averaged 59 and 49 points respectively in his 45+ minute performances. Cut to 2022, and that drops below 40 with only a 2 minute drop from the years prior.

On closer examination, we find no tries for Dan last year across his 14 appearances, which is odd given his 15% try scoring rate in the 2 years prior. We also see a 5+ point drop in base stats, from 30 tackles and 150 metres in 2021 to 27 tackles and 130 metres in 2022. It isn’t much, but that 5 points when combined with the lack of tries gave us our low year.

So what to expect in 2022? Well, in short, the Knights need him. Elliott is fine, but he registered about 40 metres per game less than Klemmer last year, and Barnett eclipses Fitzgibbon by around 20 metres per game on average. Someone needs to pick up that slack, and if you cast your mind back to 2020 you will see that Saifiti managed to register almost 180 metres per game in his 45+ minute starts. Yes, we were playing PVL ball then, but the fact remains he was capable of doing it.

Is Saifiti worth the risk? In a season laden with quality starting MID options – probably not.

Will he be a POD option to start the season? You bet your ass.

Could he return to being a gun keeper MID? Absolutely.

Ultimately, you need to exercise your own judgement on this one.

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