SHE'S only new to the Knight life, but Jakiya Whitfeld is excited about the prospect of putting the Roosters to the sword.
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A week after making her NRLW debut for the Newcastle Knights, the Bathurst 21-year-old has been named in the starting side to take on defending premiers the Sydney Roosters this Sunday.
It will be a blockbuster clash between the only two undefeated sides in the competition, but after a solid job on the wing against Parramatta, Knights coaching staff are backing Whitfeld to help them spring an upset.
"It was really cool to be selected to play again this weekend and I'm really keen to go out there and see what I can do against the Roosters," she said.
"We're both undefeated, they've got a really good side, but I'm looking forward to the clash and learning from it."
Learning - and learning quickly - has been the mission for Whitfeld since first linking with the Knights in late July.
Though she's represented Australia in rugby sevens, the world of women's rugby league is still very new to Whitfeld.
So last week when she was told she would be making her debut for the Knights, it required both mental and physical preparation.
"I was pretty nervous, I kind of tried to down play it to myself the whole week because I was trying to mentally prepare for it and not work myself up," she said.
"We've been doing a lot of stuff at the Knight on mental preparation and strategies and finding ways to mentally focus.
"So that helped, I didn't really get too nervous which was good because I typically do.
"In my head I try and tell myself it's just footy. Having never played the game and four weeks of cramming all this information in, there are so many people trying to tell me how to play, so I've told myself it's just footy, just go out there and play.
"I've tried to keep it as simple as I can in my brain to try and not over complicate things."
There amongst the more than 9,000 fans watching Whitfeld make her debut in jumper 19 for the Knights against Parramatta was her family.
That helped make a special moment even better for the Bathurst speedster.
"I don't even remember the last time my family was able to come and watch me at that kind of level because of obviously COVID and all the [rugby sevens] tournaments being international," she said.
"It was awesome to have my family there and my Dad was there at the tunnel, they clapped us on for a Father's Day thing, so that was really cool. That was probably the best part."
Once she was out on the field it was about adjusting to a much longer game time than she'd experienced in rugby sevens as well as a set of new rules.
But Whitfeld had a 100 percent tackling efficiency rating against the Eels and from her seven runs made 50 metres.
Her attacking efforts included an 11-metre dart from dummy half and tackle break.
"Because sevens is like 14 minutes, having that 70 minutes to learn and get into it was really helpful. If you make mistakes you have time to make up for that and do better," she said.
"It was all very new to me, I was just learning things on the run pretty much, but it was just good to get that game under my belt.
"I was so focussed on the game, learning and taking everything in, I didn't even notice people in the crowd."
Though she didn't pay attention to the crowd, Whitfeld did notice how tight the scoreboard was as the clock ticked down.
It took converted try in the 67th minute for the Knights to snatch an 18-16 win and remain undefeated.
"It was so close, it could've gone either way and we were really lucky. We stayed really composed in those last five minutes and luckily got a good set out and scored," Whitfeld said.
It was the Knights' third win in succession and assured them a spot in this season's finals series.
But before that comes the challenge against the Roosters, Whitfeld named in jumper number five.
The Bathurst talent will put to use what she learned last week.
"There were lots of learnings to come out of it both as a team and individually, so hopefully we can take that into this weekend and can step things up," she said.
Sunday's match at Sydney's Allianz Stadium will kick off at 1.10pm.
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