He’s the softly spoken, unassuming Samoan hitman that teammates claim commands respect with just his mere presence.
And don’t be fooled by the fact the Knights will be James Gavet’s fifth NRL club. The 29-year-old is no rugby league mercenary.
One of the first things he did when he arrived in Newcastle was to get hold of a copy of colleague Robert Dillon’s book Hard Yards to learn as much as he could about the history of the club he was joining.
Gavet wants to make an impact and it’s understood he already has a big admirer in coach Nathan Brown.
So impressive has Gavet been in the seven weeks of pre-season training leading up to the Christmas break, he is now the frontrunner to partner Kangaroos prop David Klemmer in the starting frontrow for the 2019 season opener against the Cronulla Sharks.
“Browny really likes his aggressive streak and what he has brought to the table so far at training,”one Knights insider said.
“He’s definitely got a real presence about him and his leadership qualities also stand out. Some of the younger boys already look up to him which says a lot.
“If there was a squad being picked right now, I’d reckon Browny would have him starting up front with Klem.”
Brown certainly has some selection options for the first time since taking the coaching reins in Newcastle.
The general consensus has been Klemmer would be partnered in the frontrow by Queensland Origin and former Melbourne Storm prop Tim Glasby, with Herman Ese’ese and Mitch Barnett fighting it out for the lock spot.
But the suggestion is Brown may play the workaholic Glasby at lock and go with the impact of Ese’ese and Daniel Saifiti off the bench as a more than formidible frontrow rotation.
If Dragons recruit Kurt Mann is utilised off the bench as expected and Aidan Guerra and Lachlan Fitzgibbon retain their starting backrow spots, that would leave the likes of Barnett and Sione Mata’utia fighting it out for the final bench spot.
Mata’utia could still find himself starting in the centres against the Sharks depending on how long it takes Tautau Moga to rediscover his confidence after returning from a long-term knee injury.
Another forward option, Jacob Saifiti, appears certain to miss the start of the season after breaking his leg in two places and needing surgery to repair the damage suffered after he was knocked unconscious outside a Newcastle hotel earlier this month.
Another two regulars in the top grade over the past few seasons, Jamie Buhrer and Josh King, will have to bide their time before potentially getting an opportunity.
Brown will use his side’s two trial matches as a final selection guide for the Sharks season-opener.
The club has a final trial slated for Saturday, March 2 at Maitland Sportsground against the Sharks.
They are expected to meet the Dragons two weeks prior.
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