Prop forward Jacob Saifiti has his sights set on being a consistent first grader for the nib Newcastle Knights in 2018, but admits the competition is a lot tougher than last year.
The 21-year-old said the only way he knows how to keep challenging for a spot will be through grit, determination and hard work.
“There is a lot of stiff competition this year compared to last year and it shows the growth of the Club,” Saifiti told Knights TV.
“I’ve got to be able to compete well and the only way to snag that spot is to train hard and play well.
“Once I get that spot, I’m going to do my best to hold onto it.”
The towering Fijian forward admits his time on the field against the Melbourne Storm for the Club’s first trial match could have been a bit more polished.
“I didn’t have the best game, but I didn’t have a bad game either,” Saifiti said.
“For our first game together as a squad, guys like Connor (Watson) and Kalyn (Ponga) played together really well against the best team in the comp.
“Barring the fact they had Cameron Smith and several others out, I thought we really competed well as a team and while in some areas we may have slacked off a bit, for our first hit-out we did pretty well.”
And Saifiti knows to be in the top side come Round 1, he needs to put on a good show at Maitland for the second trial against the Parramatta Eels.
“The Maitland trial against Parramatta will be like the final decider to see what the team is going to be,” stated Saifiti.
“Hopefully I can get some minutes to show them (coaches) what I can do and put my best foot forward.”
The Saifiti brother, who recorded an 87 per cent tackle efficiency last year, maintains the mix of experience and youth in the forward pack this year is a definite positive.
“It evens itself out… we have the more experienced guys like Heighno (Chris Heighington) and (Jacob) Lillyman who are steady guys in the team to hold it down and you can rely on to do anything,” added Saifiti.
“You’ve got powerful guys like Daniel (Saifiti), Herman (Ese’ese) and Yatesy (Luke Yates) who are really fast guys.
“It’s really a good, even spread this year and I think we compliment each other well.”
Ending the year on a high with his brother Daniel by his side in the middle, the prop hopes to replicate that for an even better 2018.
“In the back end of the year we found ourselves playing a lot of footy together and we fed off each other in attack and defence,” he admitted.
“If Daniel has a good run, we feed off each other or vice versa, with quick play-the-balls or in defence but whether that’s in Browny’s (Nathan Brown) plans this year, I don’t know.
“If it is to happen I’m excited for it, but I’m excited to play with all the other boys as well.”