Origin puts Jacob Saifiti in NRL spotlight

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Even while soaking up a famous Queensland State of Origin win, Dane Gagai couldn't help but rave about his Newcastle teammate Jacob Saifiti.

The Maroons centre was one of the talking points of a crazy Origin battle after his run-in with Matt Burton early in the second half.

But the NSW prop's performance off the bench - Saifiti scored a try and had 137 run metres from just 13 runs - had him looking forward to Saturday's NRL clash with Manly.

"We're in a bit of a tough position," Gagai told AAP of the Knights' 5-11 start that has them sitting 12th.

"But I believe we can still make that top eight. It's a big challenge but you've seen Jacob ... I couldn't be more proud to see the way he's playing

"His brother (fellow Origin forward Daniel) has got all the credit, Jacob was playing reggies for a bit, but he's just exploded and stepped away from his brother's shadow and been unreal for us.

"I can't wait to get back and take the field with the big fella."

The pair, as well as Maroons fullback and Knights captain Kalyn Ponga will all back-up to face the eighth-placed Sea Eagles (8-8).

Coach Adam O'Brien said all three had brought a buzz back to the club but he singled out the NSW prop given the negativity around his selection in the lead-up.

"I was really disappointed with some of the Sydney media in particular," he said.

"It was all about why it wasn't warranted.

"He does stuff to lift the game and he did that when he went on with his first carry.

"We know what we've got and I guess now everyone else sees it too."

Queensland captain and Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans has been named to play, as has Blues forward Jake Trbojevic.

O'Brien expects to face their full-strength side given the Sea Eagles are tightrope walking on the top eight.

"With DCE you need your antennas up; we need to make sure everyone is on high alert around him," he said.

Knights playmaker Anthony Milford will play his 200th NRL game, the former Brisbane half with five try assists in six games since arriving at Newcastle.

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