STEVE Matai at 29 is full of surprises.
The game’s most feared defensive centre is proving lethal in attack in 2014 on the back of his giant right step and under estimated speed.
Matai has crossed for four tries in the opening three games including vital first and last tries in the last gasp win over Parramatta last Sunday at Brookvale Oval.
The specialist left side centre has scored 71 tries in his 181 appearances for Manly and forms the oldest centre pairing in the NRL alongside his regular partner Jamie Lyon.
But the pair are a classic better with age example and widely considered as the best pairing in the competition.
Matai says his secret is simply enjoying playing the game he loves with his close team mates.
Quietly spoken and respectful off the field, Matai considers himself blessed to be paid for something he enjoys.
“To play in the NRL for so long with such a great club alongside my mates is special and I don’t take it for granted, ”Matai said.
Most NRL judges think defence when discussing Matai because of his kamikaze take no prisoners approach.
But his positioning in attack, ability to draw and pass for his winger, speed and power when needed and reading of a game are under estimated.
In addition he has one of the best dummy half running games in the competition.
Matai’s decision to be unavailable for the New Zealand Kiwis in the past two seasons has been a bonus for Manly leaving the star centre fresh throughout the premiership.
A GREAT BROOKIE SUNDAY
Sunday in the sun watching a thriller between Manly and arch rivals Parramatta is hard to beat.
Almost 15,000 fans enjoyed the experience and when Steve Matai crossed with 45 seconds on the clock to win the match the roar could be heard along Pittwater Road to Dee Why.
And the match day experience continued long after full time for Manly fans.
Hundreds of boys and girls joined parents, siblings and grand parents on the field for a kick of the footy as is traditional at Brookie after a day game.
Those that went back to the traditional home of the Sea Eagles, Manly Leagues Club, were given a chance to meet the players up close and personal after the match.
It was great to see grand final hero from 2008 Michael Robertson at the match and the after match function.
Robertson is unsure of his future after suffering a serious shoulder injury with the London Broncos last year.