AT a time when they need all hands on deck, the Newcastle Knights look set to add Jacob Saifiti's name to their long list of players unavailable for Saturday's clash with Gold Coast Titans at CBus Super Stadium.
Saifiti was placed on report for an alleged shoulder charge on Mikaele Ravalawa in Sunday's 22-13 loss to St George Illawarra, and on Monday the match-review panel charged him with a grade-one offence.
Saifiti will serve a one-game suspension if he takes the early guilty plea, but should the Knights opt for a judiciary hearing, the towering forward would be banned for two games if the verdict went against him.
Saifiti's likely absence on Saturday will place further strain on Newcastle's engine-room rotation.
Pack leader David Klemmer suffered a knee injury against the Dragons and soldiered on with his leg heavily strapped.
If Klemmer and Saifiti were both out, Josh King would be in contention to make his first appearance in the starting line-up in almost two years. Fringe forward Pasami Saulo would also be in the mix for his first game of the season and the 14th of his NRL career.
Newcastle lost experienced middle forwards Tim Glasby (retired), Aidan Guerra (retired) and Herman Ese'ese (Gold Coast) at the end of last season, and their front-row resources are stretched so thin that skipper Daniel Saifiti had to play the full 80 minutes against the Dragons.
Gold Coast, in contrast, have beefed up their pack with key signings Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and David Fifita and should take plenty of confidence from their recent home record against the Knights.
Since 2016, the Knights have lost five straight games at Robina by a combined scoreline of 175-66, including a 36-6 hammering in the last round last season, which cost Newcastle a home game in the play-offs.
Should Jacob Saifiti and Klemmer both miss Saturday's game, they will join a host of high-profile teammates on the sidelines.
Halfback Mitchell Pearce (pectoral), five-eighth Kurt Mann (concussion) and fullback Tex Hoy were all casualties of Sunday's brutal loss.
Queensland Origin star Kalyn Ponga (shoulder), back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon (shoulder) and winger Edrick Lee (foot) are all yet to play this season, while centre Bradman Best injured an elbow at training two weeks ago.
Hooker Jayden Brailey was the only member of Newcastle's "spine" to emerge unscathed on Sunday.
"We can't win a trick," Brailey said after the game.
"It's been a tough couple of weeks ... we've had a lot of injuries and it's a positive that we've still been turning up for each other, but we're pretty disappointed we've let two games at home get away from us.
"We need to turn things around pretty quick."
Brailey said that given the injury toll, having playmaker Blake Green and possibly Ponga on deck against the Titans would be a "massive" boost for Newcastle.