Usually, it is the Kiwi players that opt to cross the Tasman and return to their homeland but in the case of Ben Matulino, he has made a decision to move to Sydney to experience the city and in the process, has signed a deal with the Wests Tigers.
The Tigers, desperately needing a forward given the impending departure of current captain Aaron Woods, have signed Matulino until the end of the 2020 season.
A long-serving player at the New Zealand Warriors, he has been a fan favourite and a consistent player for the club and they issued the following statement regarding his departure at season’s end:
The Vodafone Warriors have confirmed tonight that prop Ben Matulino has informed the club he will depart at the end of the season to join the Wests Tigers.
The 28-year-old made his 197th NRL appearance in his first outing of the season in the Vodafone Warriors’ Anzac Day encounter with the Storm in Melbourne tonight.
The long-serving Matulino, who is returning from an injury lay-off following knee surgery, informed club management at the weekend that he had decided to take up an offer from Wests Tigers. He said he wanted to experience living in Sydney with his family and felt he couldn’t turn down the offer.
Matulino told football staff and his team-mates of his decision in the dressing room after tonight’s match.
He said his focus is on finishing his last season with the Vodafone Warriors on a high after starting his NRL career with the club in 2008.
The Vodafone Warriors wish Matulino and his family all the best for the future.”
A Kiwi international, the signing will give the Wests Tigers some much-needed experience in the forward pack.
“Ben has proven himself as an elite front rower in both the NRL and International arena,” said Tigers coach, Ivan Cleary. “We welcome Ben as an integral part of Wests Tigers’ future.”
“We welcome Ben as an integral part of Wests Tigers’ future.”
Also pleased to bring such a high-quality signing on board is Wests Tigers CEO, Justin Pascoe.
“Ben has been a part of the Warriors and Kiwi squads for a number of years and has shown himself to be a leader both on and off the field,” said Pascoe.
“We look forward to him bringing his experience to Wests Tigers for the coming three seasons.
“It’s great to have a player of Ben’s experience, both in the NRL and International arenas, decide to commit his future to Wests Tigers,” he said.