Manly centre Steve Matai might be known for his elusive footwork and rushing defensive hits – but the feared Kiwi star has quickly gained a reputation as a player that is ‘always’ injured
In any Steve Matai appearance, you are virtually guaranteed to see him go down with some sort of injury. You’ll often see the talented centre sitting on the deck clutching either his head, neck, shoulder or ankles. And this looks set to continue, with Matai being told yesterday he will never fully recover from neck and shoulder injuries which have plauged for most of his short career.
Regardless, the Kiwi Representative has vowed to soldier on and tough it out in the World Club Challenge this Monday, as he tries to bag a 3rd major title in just a few short months. Minus the injuries and hot temper, Matai has the chance to become one of the premier centres in Rugby League.
Matai has continued to seek advice on his medical situation from Manly Sea Eagles doctor Paul Bloomfield, and as the 2009 season approaches the two have been in close contact.
Coming off the bench against the Harlequins last week, Matai was in impressive form – scoring a long range try, but again breakdown during the match and feeling heavy after effects from the hit-out.
“There’s a lot of scar tissue around there.” Matai told the media, confirming the problems discovered in his neck and shoulder.
“It’s never going to be 100 per cent.” shrugged Matai
Seemingly getting used to the pain, Matai explained how he continued on in the Rugby League World Cup tournament, even though the problem was extremely inhibitive.
“I was getting needled every now and then with the shoulder” he said.
“I cant really go 100 per cent. Hopefully I can get the strength up.” the Manly centre confirmed.
“The best test for it is to go out there and go hard. I did that on the weekend and I’m hoping to do it this weekend as well.”
When asked about a possible rematch with Leeds centre Keith Senior (the pair fighting during the 2006 tri-nations), Matai was quick to dismiss any rough stuff – saying any fans hoping for fireworks would be sadly disappointed.
Quickly gaining a reputation as a firebrand, Matai is known for his hard hits when rushing out of the defence line – however, his method at times failed and many opposing sides in the NRL are coaching to ‘bait’ Matai out of the line, so an overlap can be gained on his flank. There is no doubt that Senior and the Leeds side will try to exploit the same opportunity.
Leeds however have problems of their own, with new star recruit Danny Buderus ruled out and former Warriors star Ali Lauititi also in doubt.
As yet Manly have not named their side, however coach Des Hasler is believed to be keen to throw forgotten man George Rose into the action and gauge his progress after a long injury layoff in 2008.