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Matai wrestles with Folau dilemma

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by clontaago, Sep 28, 2007.

  1. clontaago

    clontaago Well-Known Member

    +121 / 0
    MELBOURNE teenager Israel Folau has been getting rave reviews all season, but the latest praise has come from an unexpected source - the man charged with stopping him in Sunday night's grand final.

    Manly centre Steve Matai yesterday spoke in reverential tones of Folau's form, admitting he and his winger Michael Robertson had been working on ways to combat the 18-year-old.

    Matai, regarded among the game's most effective defensive centres, views Folau as one of Melbourne's genuine strike players in the grand final at Telstra Stadium.

    Given Folau's performances this season, his assessment is not without substance. Folau has been a revelation in his first year of first grade, appearing in 26 games and crossing for 21 tries. His ability to read the kicking game of halfback Cooper Cronk has been pinpointed as one of the focal points of Melbourne's attack.

    "He's obviously one of their strike players," Matai said. "They do a few kicks for him and we're going to have to try to defend that against him. Me and Robbo have been working on it a bit this week. Hopefully we can pull it off."

    Matai, at 94kg, is one of the more physical centres in the game, but he gives away size to Folau, who has topped the 100kg mark this year.

    Folau has also developed as a footballer. Even so, there are still deficiencies in his game.

    Parramatta centre Timana Tahu exposed some of them in last Sunday's preliminary final at Telstra Dome, troubling Folau with his footwork.

    Folau has improved to such an extent he is now regarded as a candidate for the Australia side to play New Zealand in Wellington next month.

    Former Test captain Gorden Tallis endorsed Folau's selection, claiming the teenager is playing well enough to demand inclusion.

    "Week-in, week-out he's been outstanding," Tallis said. "Normally they pick blokes who are fit and on fire."
  2. Ryan

    Ryan Well-Known Member

    +5,710 / 266
    Straight under the ribs Matai. One solid crack.

    Also, us short fellas need to break the foundations when up againt a large opponent. As hard as this is, hit from the side, and aim right at the knee. Try and break it. That'll slow him down.
  3. Chip and Chase

    Chip and Chase True Supporter Staff Member Administrator Premium Member 2016 Tipping Competitor

    +6,262 / 44
    He may be effective when his hits come off, but he is also a bit of a liability rushing out of the line. Guys who are quick on their feet can show him up, guys like Folau and Inglis for example. He also can get found out by a someone inside him with a bit of vision on their passing game, a good face ball or cut out pass.

    I'm hoping he doesn't get overexcited and feel like he needs to get a big hit on at all costs. Conversely if he can get one right early and rattle up Folau it'd be gold. I guess therein lies the dilemma with Matai.
  4. DSM5

    DSM5 Well-Known Member 2016 Tipping Competitor

    +516 / 0
    C & C you said it all. A jekyll and Hyde show is our Stevie. Personally I don't rate him, but I just hope to hell he's been spoken to about his defense. I'd be happier if Lyon was out there with him telling him where to stand and for him to have faith in his inside and outside guys. He and jack are the weakest links in the team. If they stuff up, I'll be jumping on their heads. If they tackle and hold the line, all gold to them and we win.
  5. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan 2016 Tipping Competitor

    +2,097 / 13
    and another article on the same topic

    Manly fireworks promised for Folau

    September 28, 2007 - 6:29PM
    Manly are promising a fiery start to Sunday's NRL grand final, warning Melbourne and their teenage superstar Israel Folau to expect some early fireworks.

    Sea Eagles sledgehammer Steve Matai will square off against the towering Folau in the decider at Telstra Stadium and the Kiwi Test centre has promised to give the young rookie a torrid encounter.

    "There's going to be fireworks," said Matai when asked about the traditional softening up period of the grand final.

    "It's going to be massive, massive.

    "We have to try and calm the storm and then hopefully we come away with the win."

    Matai is faced with arguably the toughest job of all this Sunday with Folau in superb form after scoring a club record 21 tries in his debut season.

    The NRL rookie of the year has dominated some of the biggest names in the game with his superior size, speed and strength leaving opponents behind in a path of destruction.

    But Matai isn't one to back away from a challenge, the 23-year-old renowned for possessing one of the most lethal tackling techniques in the NRL.

    He's brought men almost twice his size down to their knees and will need to do so again on Sunday.

    At 190cm and weighing over 100kg, Folau dwarfs the 177cm tall and 94kg Matai in stature.

    But Matai is again promising to fight above his weight and get in the face of Folau so the young Queenslander has nowhere to run or hide.

    "It will help if I get up early and get in his face but I'm just going to take it as it comes," said Matai.

    "He is just massive. If I'm not on my game I'm going to get busted on the weekend.

    "He has been their top tryscorer and will definitely be tough to stop, he can create something out of nothing.

    "I will have to be on my game in defence and hopefully I can get over the top of him."

    Manly five-eighth Jamie Lyon has backed the call for a fiery opening and says the intensity of grand finals can surpass both State of Origin and Test football's gladiatorial atmosphere.

    He wants the Eagles to rattle the Storm with some big early hits.

    "There's going to be big hits and it's going to be exciting to watch," said Lyon, who played in Parramatta's losing 2001 grand final side.

    "Hopefully we can get some big shots in out there.

    "(The intensity) is definitely right up there and probably earlier on it may be even a little bit tougher than Origin and Tests."

    Matai insists his grand final nerves have yet to begin, but says he will rely on his previous Test experience playing for the Kiwis to settle any pre-match jitters.

    "I could look at it that way, it would probably be easier if I do," he said.

    "It's certainly a different type of game, being in a grand final there is a lot on the line.

    "When I wake up on Sunday I will probably get real nervous but I will be right and we will just see how we go."

    © 2007 AAP
  6. Guest

    Guest Guest

    +0 / 0
    I wouldn;t be surprised if lyon marks Folau at time during the game as he would run rings around him with his footwork.
  7. clontaago

    clontaago Well-Known Member

    +121 / 0
    Agree Tookey. Folau really struggled with Tahu last week and I reckon our centres (Matai, Bell and Lyon) will all trouble him as they all have great footwork and steps.
  8. Fluffy

    Fluffy Well-Known Member

    +3,470 / 128
    i think we will change it up a bit at times to help the unsettling process.

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