Manly Sea Eagles and New Zealand centre Steve Matai is known for his heavy hits in defence, but the well-known centre also has a reputation of spending way too much time on the turf after being tackled himself.
We’ve spoken about it before at NRLNEWS.COM, with several of our readers going on ‘Matai Watch’.
Matai has earned the ire of many NRL fans, including some of his own Eagles fans – because the international centre has in the past stayed on the ground all-too-often clutching various body parts after seemingly routine hits from opposing players.
But it seems in 2010 – Matai has worked hard to ‘harden up’ and remain on his feet for most of the year.
While some players have unfortunate runs with genuine injury, Matai would regularly clutch at his neck, other times his arm and even his legs after getting tackled – but then moments later, would spring to his feet as if nothing happened.
His persistent laying on the ground even earned scoffs from Channel 9 commentators Peter Sterling and Phil Gould, who were also aware of the amount of time the Manly outside back was spending on the deck. At first there was genuine concern for Matai as he clutched various body parts, but it began to happen so often – many privately questioned the motive.
Was it to achieve a penalty via video ref? Was it a ploy to hide a mistake he made?
Maybe someone close to Matai tapped him on the shoulder and explained it wasn’t soccer we’re playing here – it’s Rugby League?
But the good news is Matai has been a different man in 2010 and has so far removed the softness from his game and is helping the Eagles secure a spot atop the NRL Ladder.
Manly were written off early season due to the loss of several key players over the past few seasons, namely Matt Orford – leaving the position of team general in the hands of young gun Kieran Foran.
But Foran and fellow rookie Hodkinson have been improving weekly and are enjoying the benefits of a forward pack on the move, with Perry, Watmough and G. Stewart in good stead.
Things are looking up for Matai and the Sea Eagles.
Looks like we can tone down the Matai watch now, lets hope he can stay on his feet and help the Eagles on their way.