Highly regarded Newcastle prop Daniel Saifiti wants to remain a Knight long-term and says he would sign a new deal tomorrow if the club put a contract in front of him.
In a week when the long and arduous contract negotiations between Clint Gutherson and the Parramatta Eels finally reached their inevitable conclusion after a great deal of angst, Saifiti's outlook on his future is refreshing.
He doesn't come off contract until the end of 2020 and could be worth $500,000 plus a season this time next year if he was to remain unsigned. But he told this column he has no intention of going anywhere else and ideally, if the cards fall into place, wants to play his whole career in Newcastle.
"I'm not interested in going to another club and the Knights know I want to stay," he said. "But there is probably a few others like Jesse [Ramien], Kalyn [Ponga], Barney [Mitch Barnett] and Fitzy [Lachlan Fitzgibbon] who they are looking to keep. I'd definitely sign long term. The club has been really good to me and Jacob since we have been here with a bit of loyalty. I know what they have done for me and I'll show my loyalty too if they're happy to have me. I'll sign straight away."
On the subject of money and wanting an increase on his current salary, he said: "It would be nice but I'm not greedy. Like I said, I know what the club has done for me."
Saifiti puts his strong early season form down to the influence of David Klemmer and Tim Glasby.
"With Klem and Glaz here, you realise what an actual first grader looks like in terms of getting bashed up and looking after your body and putting the right things in your body," he said. "I'm doing that now and I don't think it's a co-incidence my form and consistency have improved."
Chooks on menu
Given they regularly shun going to watch their own team play even at home, it's clearly going to be too big an ask for latte-sipping Sydney Roosters fans to drag themselves out of their trendy Bondi watering holes on a Friday night for a trip up the M1 next week.
But even that shouldn't stop the Knights posting one of their biggest crowds of the season for the clash against the defending premiers if corporate sales for the game are anything to go by as they chase just their second win over the Chooks since 2011.
We're hearing corporate tickets were in such demand, they sold out even before last weekend's Magic Round win over the Bulldogs. A win over the Dragons in Mudgee tomorrow will only heighten interest even though the game will be televised live on Channel Nine.
Hunting a deal
He's been in fantastic early-season form for the Knights but there are no plans to make an early move to re-sign off-contract centre Hymel Hunt at this stage.
Hunt is on a one year deal only worth around $140,000 and the club is getting plenty of value out of him. But with a host of talented young outside backs coming through the system, there is hardly a need to rush a decision on his future unless interest comes from elsewhere.
The Knights will then have to weigh up the pros and cons of keeping him if it does.
One of those youngsters coming through and being tipped for big things, Simi Sasagi, is currently nursing stress fractures in his back and has been given extended time off to recover full fitness.
If you haven't heard of the kid, he scored four tries in 35 minutes against Manly in a Jersey Flegg Under 20's clash a month ago after training with the Knights' fulltime squad in the pre-season.
So how big is the boom on the young Kiwi utility? Coach Nathan Brown says he could play NRL before the end of the season.
With the Magic Round happening in Brisbane last weekend, it was strange scheduling to play the NSW/Queensland Residents rep game at Redcliffe last Sunday in opposition.
For the record, Queensland won the game 42-22 after leading 22-0 at one stage. Knights backrower Beau Fermor scored a try for NSW with the team featuring ex-Knights Brock Lamb and JJ Collins.
Ponga wants Maroons kicking job
He is as laid back as they come so it's hardly a surprise Kalyn Ponga says he will volunteer for the goal-kicking duties during Origin this season if the Queensland Maroons are looking for a kicker.
While he had his moments with a few misses earlier in the season, Ponga's kicking overall for the Knights this season has been exceptional. He has kicked 29 goals from 34 attempts at an 85 percent success rate and has been close to 90 percent over the past three weeks.
It's a far cry from the 69 percent he kicked at last season for the club.
Asked during the week if he felt his kicking had improved this season, he quipped: "I haven't been sacked yet.
"I'm practicing a lot more than I was last year. Even throughout the pre-season and in-season I've been practicing more, so I like how I am kicking.
"I obviously want to make a few more but you lose some you win some."
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As for the Origin job with Ponga a certainty to be chosen as Queensland fullback, he said: "I'd put my hand up. There's other goal-kickers in the team and whoever's picked is a lucky man."
What about the prospect of lining up a kick in front of 80,000 people to win the series? "It would be pretty cool, a dream come true that," he said.
Mann's AFL link
Knights utility Kurt Mann has revealed he considered switching codes and playing AFL when he was at the St George Illawarra Dragons after some interest from Port Adelaide.
"No offer ever got tabled but we spoke about it," he said. "I'd played it as a kid and enjoyed it and at the time, I wasn't sure if I was going to continue with rugby league. But I ended up re-signing with the Dragons so it put it all to bed."
In a sure sign of just how tight money now is at the Newcastle Jets, we're told striker Roy O'Donovan was prepared to accept a pay-cut of just over $100,000 a season to stay at the club provided he was given a two year deal.
The club initially talked a one year deal before offering a second year with goal triggers attached before taking the second year off the table altogether, prompting O'Donovan to walk away.