http://www.stuff.co.nz/sundaynews/4592390a19773.html Matai's World Cup dream hangs in the balance By AARON LAWTON - Sunday News | Sunday, 22 June 2008 KIWIS star Steve Matai's World Cup campaign is hanging in the balance after revelations the Manly hard man is still struggling with a neck injury. Matai has been battling with a slipped disc in his neck since last season but has managed to play seven games for the Sea Eagles in 2008. The ailment is still causing him discomfort and the brave centre admitted to Sunday News last night he has discussed the prospect of surgery at the end of the season with club doctors. If he does go under the knife, Matai will miss the Kiwis' World Cup campaign, which starts in late October. "I'm slowly getting my body right again," he said. "My neck has been playing up a bit in recent weeks and it's something we have to monitor and stay on top of. "It's the same neck injury that plagued me last year. Every now and then I tweak it and it starts to feel a bit sore. "There's a chance I may have to go under the knife and get it sorted out. "I spoke to the doctor a couple of weeks ago and he said if it keeps playing up I will have to see a specialist about getting some surgery at the end of the season. "I'm not sure exactly what the surgery would involve. Hopefully it comes right and I won't have to." Matai, who was ruled out of last year's Kiwis tour to the UK in order to undergo shoulder surgery, also missed out on rookie coach Stephen Kearney's squad for the recent centenary test. He was told by selectors he was overlooked due to a lack of game time. But if fit, Matai could almost certainly expect a place in the World Cup squad and he admits he is concerned about missing out on such a massive rugby league event. "It's been very frustrating carrying injuries," said Matai. "My first two years in the NRL, I didn't get a single injury. "All of a sudden it's hit me all at once. It's pretty frustrating but I have good support from my family and also the boys at the club. "They've been awesome. Whenever they see me get down they pull me aside and encourage me to keep working hard. "I am a bit concerned I might miss the World Cup if I have to get surgery on my neck but I'm trying not to think about the Kiwis at the moment. "I missed out in the centenary test so I'm just trying to play well for Manly. "Hopefully I get chosen at the end of the year. "I spoke to Stephen when we played Melbourne in our trial game and he told me to look after my body and keep playing well. "I haven't spoken to him since but I hope he's still considering me for his squad." So disappointed was Matai to miss out on May's centenary test, he asked Manly legend and club media manager Peter Peters to chase up his omission with selectors. "I spoke to Zorb (Peter Peters) and he told me he had a chat with Kiwis selector Darrell Williams," said Matai. "Darrell told Peter the reason I missed out on the Kiwis in May was because I had only just come back from injury and needed game time. "After he told me that I wasn't too disappointed."