Meninga questions inclusion of NSW rookie Saifiti to replace Klemmer

Queensland legend Mal Meninga has questioned the logic behind replacing David Klemmer with Knights’ youngster Daniel Saifiti for Origin II.

Saifiti is tipped to make his Blues debut in game two, after coming in to replace the injured David Klemmer, but Meninga doesn’t think it is a like for like replacement.

“An inexperienced prop coming in to what is a must-win game, taking the place of a very experienced player in David Klemmer - I find that a bit strange,” Meninga said.

“I just think you need another experienced prop to start the game.’’

The shock selection of the 23-year-old Knights front-rower to replace one of the Blues best in game one is a risk.

At 121kgs, Saifiti has come out of nowhere to storm into Blues reckoning on the back of starring displays against the Roosters and South Sydney.

Saifiti has been a mainstay in the Knights front-row since making his NRL debut in 2016 and has racked up 74 first grade games in four seasons for Newcastle.

Saifiti has also played three Tests for Fiji and has support from Knights legends and NSW assistant coaches Andrew Johns and Danny Buderus.

The hulking prop is expected to be named alongside Knights teammate Mitchell Pearce when the NSW team is officially announced on Sunday night.

Blues Adviser Greg Alexander confirmed there would be changes for game two, after injuries to Klemmer and Nick Cotric.

“I’ve got a phone hook up later on and we’ll thrash out a few of those ‘maybes’,” Alexander said on Saturday night.

“There won’t be wholesale changes, there’ll be a few changes and a couple are forced, no David Klemmer, no Nick Cotric.”

Wade Graham is also set to be included after two games back from a long term knee injury, with Payne Haas under pressure to retain his spot.