Rookie Knights set to make NRL history

Whatever the result, Newcastle are destined to make history in their NRL season opener on the Gold Coast on Sunday.

Daniel and Jacob Saifiti will become the first twins to make their first grade debut together in rugby league’s 108-year history in Australia, this weekend.

They will be among five Knights debutants running out against the Titans – equalling a club record.

Knights coach Nathan Brown revealed his hand well before Tuesday’s 5pm AEDT team deadline, adding some interest to a clash between the two early wooden spoon favourites.

Brown confirmed the 19-year-old Saifiti twins would play along with fellow newcomers Jaelen Feeney, Pat Mata’utia and Junior Kiwis recruit David Bhana.

A club spokesperson said it was the most debutants to play in a Knights team since their 1988 debut and most seen since Brisbane blooded six players in 2002.

The Saifiti twins – both forwards – provide some welcome new blood to a Knights squad that lost almost 1,200 NRL games’ worth of experience, including inspirational captain Kurt Gidley in the off-season.

“To be looking across the field at guys like Jeremy Smith, it still hasn’t sunk in yet,” Daniel told Knights TV.

“(But) Browny made it pretty clear, not just to us but to everyone, that he’s not going to choose a side on reputation or how much money we’re on – he’s going to go on merit.

“When we found out that…we really wanted it.”

Unlike their jubilant family, the Newcastle-born, Central Coast-raised brothers vowed not to let the occasion overwhelm them.

“We went back to the coast on Friday and told our family and they all started crying,” Daniel said.

“(But) I don’t want to let the occasion get to me and let my teammates down.”

Meanwhile, Feeney looks set to replace Gidley at fullback, holding out the claims of speedster Jake Mamo.

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