Tooves and Spud on Matai

Kiwi Eagle

Staff member
No more brainsnaps: Matai's style counsel

John Greco


FORMER Manly halfback Geoff Toovey last night admitted Steve Matai must cut the ``brainsnaps'' out of his game but doesn't want the Kiwi international to change his aggressive nature.

The fiery Sea Eagles centre will line up against the Sharks at Toyota Park tonight after he escaped a headbutting charge at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night.

Manly's lawyer Geoff Bellew QC successfully argued the 22-year-old didn't intentionally make contact with the Tigers' Chris Heighington's head.

The outcome is a massive boost for the 22-year-old who is just starting find some rhythm to what's been a largely disjointed season.

And while Matai's confrontational style can land him in hot water with referees, Toovey said the Auckland-born international needed to continue the type of aggressive play that's made him one of the NRL's most damaging centres.

``That's just his style,'' Toovey told the Daily last night.

``Steve's got an aggressive style and he knows there's a fine line. I don't see there being any problem. He might need to stop the odd brain snap but as long as he doesn't step over that line there's no worries.''

Manly CEO Grant Mayer added: ``I don't think we have to particularly look at (Matai's playing style), he was found not guilty so there is no need to do that.

``(But) it will be part of the process that the coaching staff go through, looking at his game and the way he plays.

``We don't think he is overly aggressive and he certainly plays the game the way it should be played.''

A player who knows all about aggression, former Manly prop Mark Carroll, implored Matai to maintain the rage. Carroll said the way Matai played was an integral part of the Sea Eagles success.

``He's like having an extra forward in the team,'' Carroll said. ``When the forwards are bashing people in the middle it's great to have guys who can bash people out wide.''

Matai's inclusion for the Sea Eagles tonight is a huge bonus with fellow centre Steve Bell no certainty to play due to a corked thigh. Second-rower Anthony Watmough (ankle) is also expected to lineup for Manly with Travis Burns likely to come off the five-man bench.

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