Since Sam Mataora joined the ranks of the Newcastle Knights in July, he has established himself as a valuable heavyweight in the NSW Cup side’s front row.
Knights TV sat down with the 23-year-old to speak about how he’s settled in at Newcastle, with the team sitting just one game shy of a grand final appearance.
As far as an introduction to a Club goes, the NSW Cup’s loss to this weekend’s opponent the Illawarra Cutters in Round 17 wasn’t his ideal maiden match with the Knights.
Although deflated by the 26-0 score line, the defeat was the catalyst for the following eight game winning stretch, which has found the team now just one game away from the NSW Cup grand final.
The two sides have met since, with the Knights defeating the Cutters 36-16 in round 21. It will be a game the Knights will look to replicate when the two sides meet for the third time this Sunday.
“The first week I got here we played against Illawarra and we got a hiding that game,” the 114kg forward said.
“But when we played them again we won, so I guess it’s going to be a tough grind around the middle so we need to switch on there.
“I’m expecting a tough game against Illawarra this week, so if we can go forward and just hang on to the ball I reckon it will be good for us.”
NSW Cup head into the game with the advantage of having a week off after a strong defeat over Wentworthville at Leichhardt Oval in the qualifying final.
“Preparation has been good so far...and we have had a good rest so hopefully that helps us out,” Mataora added.
Mataora has enjoyed his time in Newcastle since making the move mid-season from the Canberra Raiders.
“Newcastle is a good spot I reckon, I’m enjoying myself here and am always at the beach," he said.
But the interstate move to chase an opportunity at the Knights has not come without its challenges. Mataora is apart from his a five-month-old daughter who has remained in Canberra.
“It’s tough because I miss her heaps, so I guess I’m doing it for her at the moment,” he revealed.
So when Mataora runs out this weekend he’ll not only be resolute on gaining a win for his new team, but to make his family at home proud.
“The boys here are pretty awesome so hopefully we can take it all the way," he said.
The Knights take on the Cutters this Sunday, 3.15pm at Leichhardt Oval. The match will be live on Fox Sports.