DANIEL Saifiti says Newcastle Knights fans can expect to see a lot less of him over the remainder of the NRL season, but hopefully a lot more of him at the same time.
Well, Saifiti has revealed that during the month he was sidelined with a knee injury, before his emphatic return in last week's 38-12 victory against Gold Coast, he managed to strip five kilograms from his towering frame and is back to almost what he considers his ideal weight.
"I feel fitter," he told the Newcastle Herald.
"I looked on the four weeks I was out as a little mini pre-season. I tried to turn it into a positive.
"I dropped a few kilos, so I feel a bit lighter and I'm moving a bit better.
"I owe the club a big second half of the year, after the way I started the year, and that's what I plan on giving them."
I owe the club a big second half of the year.- DANIEL SAIFITI
Asked how he went about shifting the excess baggage, the 26-year-old suggested a little bit of discipline has gone a long way.
"It was just eating better, training harder," he said.
"I probably came back to pre-season last year and I wasn't in the best shape.
"Then I broke my leg [in a pre-season trial], had COVID. So my pre-season was really interrupted, and I was probably about four or five kilos heavier in round one than I wanted to be.
"Now I'm almost back to the weight I was last year, around 114 or 113 kilos.
"At the start of the year, I was more like 117, 118. Last year, I was around 112, 113.
"It's just about moving better in defence. You don't gas out as quickly in the legs, and hopefully I can stay on the field for longer minutes.
"I also feel quicker when I'm lighter."
To put that in context, consider what Saifiti weighed when he was at his heaviest.
"Round one of 2017, when we played the Warriors over there [in Auckland], I was up to 128 kilos," he said.
"It's a big difference."
Saifiti racked up 152 attacking metres and 21 tackles in his 47 minutes against the Titans, and Knights coach Adam O'Brien said he played a crucial role in putting Newcastle on the front foot.
"He was exceptional," O'Brien said.
"I thought his work rate in his first stint, to come back into the team and start, and to get us off to the start that we did, I thought he was excellent.
"It feels like we've got the D-Saf of old back. He's worked extremely hard to get himself in good nick, and he's another one that I want to see build on what he did last week."
A candid Saifiti admitted that even before he injured his knee, he did not expect to be picked for NSW this season, despite having worn the sky-blue seven times over the previous three seasons.
His disappointment has been alleviated by the elevation of his twin sibling Jacob for the series decider at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday.
Jacob was rushed into the NSW squad after Cowboys prop Jordan McLean was ruled out with a hamstring injury on Thursday.
And while Daniel would never begrudge Jacob an opportunity to live out his Origin dream, he might well have mixed emotions on Wednesday night, wishing he was out there himself.
"It's just not meant to be," he said.
"I didn't deserve to make it this year.
"From what I heard, if I hadn't been injured, I probably would have been in the 22 for game one.
"But I didn't think I'd earned it. I'd love to be there, don't get me wrong.
"But also we've got a big game against the Rabbitohs, and I don't want to miss that, either."
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