Memo "2" - matai knockers From todays paper - seems a few others at the club don't agree with your thoughts on Matai being an untalented, mistake prone footballer.Â ;D :-* Not a backward step Zorba 3 May 2008 WHAT you see isn't what you get with Steve Matai. Off the field he is shy, reserved and polite to the extreme. But strap on the football boots and jersey and one of the most feared competitors in the NRL explodes. At 23, Matai is already a proven international and an upgrade of his contract earlier this season will keep him at the Sea Eagles for the next three seasons. Matai arrived for a week of intense summer training back in November 2004 from the Wynnum Manly club in Brisbane. By March 2005, Matai had debuted in the NRL and hasn't looked back since. He now sits just two games short of his 50 first grade games for Manly and is set for a long and successful career in maroon and white. His two games back from a shoulder reconstruction have shown how vital a player he has become. Nothing sorts out the men from the boys in the NRL than when you are coralled close to the corner a few metres out from your own line with the defence snorting fire and going in for the kill. Two weeks ago at Parramatta Stadium in the pouring rain it would have been easy for Matai to step back a little and leave the hard stuff to the forwards. But that isn't in the make up of this young man from the south side of Auckland where life is tough. He relishes the battle and the tougher the better. Matai almost always pokes his head through the defence when he takes a charge to give his forwards some relief. He was genuinely disappointed when he missed selection in the New Zealand side to play Australia next Friday in the Centenary Test at the SCG. "That would have been an honour," he said. But he understood that two matches back from injury wasn't the background needed to take on the likes of Mark Gasnier and Justin Hodges. I reckon the boys in green and gold would have cheered knowing that Matai would sit this one out. There isn't a centre in the premiership who looks forward to marking Matai.