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Crocked Matai lays Kiwis ambition on the line

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by ants, Oct 6, 2008.

  1. ants

    ants Active Member

    +12 /1
    Crocked Matai lays Kiwis ambition on the line
    By MARK GEENTY | Monday, 06 October 2008

    Steve Matai wrecked his body again for the ultimate rugby league prize then declared himself ready for more in the World Cup.

    The Kiwis centre slumped in a quiet alcove of the ANZ Stadium dressing room last night, an ice pack on his neck and a premiership ring in his hand after Manly's stunning 40-0 rout of defending premiers Melbourne.

    A year earlier, Matai struck a similar pose contemplating an 8-34 hiding from Melbourne and a pending shoulder reconstruction.

    "It hasn't really sunk in yet. It just feels like we've finished a normal game, it doesn't really feel like a grand final to me. The difference is you come off with a ring," Matai told NZPA.

    "I couldn't really get into the festivities too much, my neck was pretty sore. It's just a great feeling."

    The blockbusting centre who grew up playing for the Ponsonby club in Auckland epitomised Manly's high-octane approach which stunned the Storm.

    After three Melbourne play-the-balls it was Matai, three tackles; teammates, nil, as Storm players Billy Slater, Steve Turner and Michael Crocker all bit the dust.

    There was more big defence, a try assist for wing Michael Robertson's hat-trick and three goals for good measure after he took over kicking duties from captain Matt Orford.

    Matai also made way for Manly hero Steve Menzies, albeit reluctantly, with 10 minutes left when he reeled way in pain after a collision. Two minutes later the crowd of 80,388 main Sea Eagles fans went crazy when Menzies dived over for a try in a memorable 349th and final NRL match.

    "I didn't really want to come off but the doctor pulled the reins and said I had to get it checked," Matai said.

    "I just love playing with the boys and love this game so much I wanted to play every minute.

    "It was at my expense, but I'm glad he (Menzies) got the fairytale sendoff he deserved." The big question was, would Matai's injuries allow him to be named in Stephen Kearney's World Cup squad tomorrow? Assuming he got the all-clear from a shoulder specialist, and the nod from Manly medical staff, he was confident.

    "The body's still pretty sore. I've got to see the specialist this week and if he clears me to play I'm keen to play. I'm hoping I'll be available."

    Kearney, who cut a sombre figure as part of Melbourne's staff, checked on Matai's wellbeing and expected to have him back in black.

    "He wants to play, that's the main thing, and he's coped fairly well with (the shoulder) all year," Kearney said.

    "It hasn't been bad enough to hinder his performance. He was good last week and good again tonight."

    Matai had a big personal support crew with his father Aloese over from Auckland. There was also a brother, a sister, cousins and friends to complete Team Matai in the stands.

    "I had about 20 tickets to give out this morning so they'll be waiting for me when I get home.

    "I saw my Dad straight after, I went up to him and gave a kiss and he said he was proud of me."

    The remarkable eight-tries-to-none onslaught was Manly's seventh premiership, and their first since 1996 when coach Des Hasler and Menzies were both playing.

    Matai joined Matthew Ridge and Craig Innes (1996) and Darrell Williams (1987) as Manly's grand final-winning Kiwis.

    "It's an honour to be in the same category as those blokes and my family's proud of me."

    - NZPA
  2. Canteen Worker

    Canteen Worker Well-Known Member

    +215 /5
    Matai was not with the players at the club last night and the word was that he was in hospital. You have to be badly injured to miss something like that?
  3. ants

    ants Active Member

    +12 /1
    As much as the kiwi inside of me wants him to front for the world cup, I am hoping that he does opt for surgery to repair his injuries.  The bloke is clearly injured and seems to have JUST made it through the last two weeks.  The rugby league world cup is nothing more than a mickey mouse competition anyway!
  4. Fro

    Fro Well-Known Member

    +302 /0
    Matai strikes me as the kind of guy who is proud to represent his country at any opportunity.

    And more power to him for it.

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