http://www.stuff.co.nz/sundaynews/4732036a15599.html Matai's set for a smashing time EXCLUSIVE AARON LAWTON - Autocar | Sunday, 19 October 2008 KIWIS hard man Steve Matai has lit the fuse for an explosive World Cup opener against the Kangaroos next Sunday - declaring he will play the role of enforcer for the men in black. The NRL premiership-winning centre was sent off in the 23rd minute of the Kiwis test against the Aussies in Wellington last October for a hit which left his opposite number Mark Gasnier out cold. Later, at the post-match press conference, Kangaroos coach Ricky Stuart described Matai's hit as a "cheap shot''. But in a move which is sure to ruffle the feathers of the highly-fancied Australians, Matai has refused to admit he did anything wrong in the Gasnier incident. "Last year was last year. I don't really think about stuff like that,'' he told Sunday News after the Kiwis 56-8 rout of Tonga yesterday. "I don't even think I did anything wrong to be honest,'' he insisted. "I thought it was a good hit. "It won't be playing on my mind.'' Renowned both here and across the Tasman for his confrontational style of play, Matai has warned opponents to expect a few "Smashed Ã¢Â€Â˜Em Bro" moments come the World Cup. "At Manly, I'm expected to play hard and do everything with a purpose,'' he said. "It won't be any different when I pull on the black jersey. "If anything, I will play with even more purpose at test level. "It's something I always aspire to do. "I'm going to play even harder and even more physical. That's my job.'' --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- http://www.stuff.co.nz/sundaynews/4731930a15599.html Manly star pushes pain barrier to play AARON LAWTON - Sunday News | Sunday, 19 October 2008 BRAVE Kiwis hero Steve Matai will potentially need at least five more pain-killing injections on his troubled right shoulder just to get through the World Cup. The Manly star was last week cleared to play for the Kiwis after initial concerns a dodgy neck and shoulder would force him to undergo immediate surgery. Loose bone chips in his shoulder will be cleaned out after the World Cup but until then he will need a local anaesthetic to get through each of the Kiwis' hit-outs. News regarding the slipped disc in his neck, however, is more positive, with the ailment showing in scans that it should come right with rest. "I went and saw my club doctor at Manly on Monday morning," Matai told Sunday News. "Previously, I had a scan on my neck so I took them for him to see and he said they looked all right. "I had scans on my neck in May and he said the new ones were similar to them. "In other words, my neck hasn't got any worse since May so he cleared me to play. "On Monday afternoon, I also went to see a specialist about my shoulder and he sent me for a scan. "He's booked me in for an operation when the World Cup finishes. "As far as the shoulder specialist is concerned, I should be OK to play at the World Cup and then we can get it fixed afterwards." Matai says Manly coach Des Hasler is happy for him to play at the World Cup as long as his shoulder is taken care of. "Our medical staff at Manly have spoken to the Kiwis' doctors and informed them what needs to be done to my shoulder to get through each game," said Matai. "I'm pretty sure it will just be the same as what I was doing at the Sea Eagles towards the end of the year. "To help ease the pain in my shoulder, I have to get a local anaesthetic in it before games." Happy to be back with his Kiwis mates, Matai who played against Tonga yesterday and says he won't let his injuries worry him admits there were times during the season when he thought he wouldn't make it to the World Cup. "I think the more you focus on your injuries the more chance you have of hurting yourself," he said. "I'm just thinking about doing my best for the Kiwis. "There was always a doubt in my mind where I thought I wasn't going to make it. "I've been pushing the doctor and the medical staff over in Aussie and I've been saying to them `let me play', `let me play'." As for the year he's had, Matai's hoping the Kiwis' exploits at the World Cup can top his recent Grand Final win with the Sea Eagles. "It's been such an awesome year. Winning the Grand Final, I don't know if it gets any better than that," he said. "Of course, I'll have to reserve my judgement until after the World Cup."