Such is the wrap on Matt Head – some in League circles say the livewire no.7 could have been a consistent NSW representative had he not been plagued by injury. Next year will mark another chapter in the Head career; returning to St George Illawarra after several years away from his junior club and crossing fingers he doesn’t have to face another major breakdown.
Putting the minds of Dragons’ fans at ease, who have all watched and held their breath as Head struggled with constant knee problems during his early years at the club, but still only young at 26 – Head feels he is in good shape and the return home could be just the medicine for his body and mind.
Head hit the training grounds in Wollongong this week before new coach Wayne Bennett comes on board next week.
It’s been a tough few years for Head, who left St George Illawarra to mix it in the UK Super League with the Hull side during the midd of the 2007 NRL season – after struggling to beat 2 knee reconstructions. The Wollongong local then copped shoulder trouble during his time in the UK and upon return to Australian, joined the Wests Tigers hoping for a fresh start – but injury also finished that comeback attempt.
Head has shown more than enough at the Dragons and Tigers – to confirm, when fully fit – he is up there with the very best.
Believed to be now on a heavily incentive based Dragons contract, Head will need to remain fit and be playing regularly to pickup any decent pay cheques from the club.
“I’ve had my fair share of bad luck, but I’m trying to put that all behind me,” Head shrugged.
“The coaching staff are working hard with us with the knee in the gym and occasionally I’ll have a session off just to make sure the knee is right to go for the next session.
“It’s one of those things that we’re going to manage, but in saying that, when it comes season time it’s time to rip in and have a dig.”
When St George Illawarra signed Jamie Soward in 2007, Head like many others in the NRL world felt that door had closed for good at his junior club.
At the time, former Dragons coach Nathan Brown declared “if (Head) didn’t have the bad injury run that he had, I’ve got no doubt he’d be the NSW halfback now”.
And so St George Illawarra are relying on the faith that Head will realise his potential.
A mentor for Head early on in his career, Dragons recruitment manager Craig Young yesterday denied the club took a gamble signing the playmaker.
“If we considered it a gamble we don’t sign him,” he said.
“It’s too critical in the salary cap to do anything we thought would be a risk.
“We’re very confident in his ability, we think he provides a great option for us in the halves.”