David Klemmer says his Knights teammate Daniel Saifiti is already among the game's best props and predicts he will be a dominant force in a Blues' win in Townsville tonight to kick off this year's Origin series.
A veteran of five Origin campaigns for NSW himself, Klemmer believes Saifiti has taken his game to another level this season and is on the cusp of Kangaroos selection.
"I can't wait to see him play," Klemmer told the Newcastle Herald.
"He had a great Origin series at the end of last year where he was one of the Blues' best and he's taken his game to another level this season. If he backs up last year's performance which I'm sure he will, he's going to be right up there for the Australian team.
"It's a great opportunity for him and I reckon he will grab it with both hands and really take it to the Maroons up there."
Klemmer believes the added responsibility of a leadership role this season has added another dimension to Saifiti's game.
"He's the only genuine starting prop there so he's got a big load on his shoulders," Klemmer said.
"But that's a sure sign they have a lot of faith in what he will bring. They have picked a great Origin side the Blues and they have picked Daniel to lead the way and lay the platform and I reckon he will do a great job of it.
"He's really stood up for us this year. He's obviously taken on a captaincy role. He's talking a lot more at training and being that leader figure around the club.
"He'll take a lot of that into his third Origin campaign for the Blues. He'll be a lot more comfortable and confident around the boys and I think he'll be a real dominant force in the series."
Despite the Maroon's getting the rub of green with the game being played in Townsville rather than at a neutral venue, Klemmer is confident NSW will win and take a 1-0 lead in the series to Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane for Game II.
"It's extraordinary the calibre of players the Blues still have to choose from even though there are quite a few contenders missing so I'm confident we are going to win," he said.
"But don't forget, we labelled Queensland the worst Origin side in history last year and looked what happened.
"They like to use the underdog tag a lot to their advantage but I just think we have the better team and will get the job done.
Klemmer believes Canberra Raiders and Kangaroos prop Josh Papalli is a big out for the Maroons.
"He's a huge loss for them in that arena with just the aura he has on that stage," he said.
"They'll really miss what he always provides for them in the middle of the park. It's another reason why there is a a really good opportunity for Daniel to really make a big statement about himself in the game."
The Knights prop, who is currently serving a two game suspension and will miss Saturday's clash against South Sydney at ANZ Stadium, expects Saifiti to come out of Origin an even better player.
"Just with another Origin series under the belt and the confidence and experience he will take out of that, he is going to be big for us at the back end of the year I reckon," he said.
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