IN an ideal world, Daniel and Jacob Saifiti would play out their careers together at the Newcastle Knights, retiring as one-club loyalists who performed vital roles in a remarkable resurrection.
The "Twin Towers" from the Central Coast debuted in the NRL as teenagers, when the Knights were at their lowest ebb, and endured consecutive wooden spoons and countless heavy losses during their first two seasons in the top grade.
Somehow they survived to not just tell the tale but establish themselves among the best front-rowers in the competition.
Still only 27, they should theoretically have plenty of good football ahead of them, and there is little doubt that both are happy and settled in Newcastle, and eager to build on the Knights' breakout 2023 campaign.
Yet there is no room for sentiment in professional sport, and Jacob now finds himself pondering a dilemma at a crucial juncture in his career.
Off contract at the end of 2024, Jacob is effectively a free agent and entitled to negotiate with rival clubs, and you can rest assured that there will be no shortage of interest in obtaining his services.
Further complicating his thought process is the four-year deal Daniel signed in 2021 that ties him to Newcastle until the end of the 2026 season.
At the time of signing, Daniel was Newcastle's No.1 middle forward and had represented NSW in seven State of Origins.
On that basis, he was offered "Origin money" by the Knights and this season will reportedly rank among the highest-earning props in the NRL.
Unfortunately for Daniel, since signing that contract, he has spent much of the past two seasons battling the pain barrier, playing with injury, and not surprisingly his form has suffered accordingly.
He hasn't played for NSW in their past two Origin series, and he spent the final five games of last season coming off the interchange bench, which would have been almost unthinkable not so long ago.
Jacob, meanwhile, has not just displaced his slightly elder sibling in the starting line-up, he has also represented the Blues in two Origins over the past two seasons.
So it's not hard to imagine his agent, during negotiations with Newcastle officials, arguing that on form his client should be paid at least as much, if not more, than Daniel.
That is simply not an option for the Knights, who have made no secret of their tight salary-cap situation.
If they had two front-rowers earning top dollar, as well as an incumbent New Zealand Test prop in Leo Thompson, it would in all likelihood leave their roster management completely out of whack.
Highlighting the bond between the brothers, Daniel proposed a possible solution by generously volunteering to take a pay cut, on the basis that the Knights could then bump up their offer for Jacob.
But that suggestion has been ruled out because of an NRL rule that stipulates if a club renegotiates a contract with a player, that player cannot then be paid a lesser amount.
Presumably that clause was requested by the RLPA to prevent unscrupulous clubs from leveraging or trying to take advantage of players they felt were not delivering value for money.
Rules are rules, as they say, but common sense should also apply. This is clearly a unique case, and I can't really see what advantage the Knights would gain if the NRL was to grant dispensation allowing Daniel to forego some of his earnings, if that enabled him to continue playing alongside Jacob.
As it stands, the Knights are understood to have made competitive offers to both Jacob and Bradman Best - their two major off-contract commodities - and are quietly confident both will re-sign.
How that plays out is anyone's guess.
All I can say with confidence is that it will be a win-win situation for the Saifitis and the club's fans if Jacob re-signs with Newcastle.
You'd think the NRL would want to encourage that. Policies don't necessarily have to be set in stone.
A few years ago, I logged into Ticketek's website to check out the options for a day at the SCG watching the Australian team play cricket.
I was astonished to discover that it cost the same money for a ticket to a T20 match or a 50-over one-dayer.
In what other walk of life, I wondered, would you willingly fork out your hard-earned for a certain product or service, knowing that you could buy two-and-a-half times as much for the same outlay?
I don't get it. I mean would you rather watch Paul McCartney play 39 songs during an epic three-hour concert, or would you be happy to pay the same freight for him to bash out a dozen Beatles classics and knock it all over in 45 minutes?
Yet that's the world we live in, since the advent of T20 cricket two decades ago.
Or at least it was, until the ODI World Cup currently being staged in India.
The past couple of months have reminded me how much superior the 50-over format is, compared to its brash little brother.
I'm a traditionalist who will always regard Test cricket as the ultimate.
But I also enjoy the T20 version, which has revolutionised every aspect of the game, in particular the shot selection of batsmen and the phenomenal skills shown by fielders catching balls that have cleared the boundary rope.
But in amongst T20's exponential growth, 50-over matches have become an afterthought.
Many believe, or fear, that format will eventually disappear altogether.
But I'm sure if you ask any player, the overwhelming response will be that they prefer playing 50 overs a side. It's just a better game for everyone.
In T20s, a batsman like Glenn Maxwell might get to face 15 or 20 balls. In the ODI format, he has enough time to score a miraculous double-century.
One-dayers can be runfests, as evidenced by regular scores above 300 or even 400 during the World Cup. Alternatively, South Africa and Australia fought out a thriller in the semi-final with scores of 212 and 7-215.
Here's hoping the World Cup is evidence that 50-over matches will be around for a good while yet.
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