When Sione Mata’utia runs out at WIN Stadium for his second Four Nations game, he knows he’ll have plenty of family support, but admits they could be torn on who to barrack for given his Australian side are playing Toa Samoa.
You see, the young Newcastle Knight who was born and raised in Australia has a proud Samoan heritage. So as the Kangaroos build for their next challenge this Sunday, it is mixed emotions for the Mata'utia family.
“I’m not sure how I’ll cope during the siva tau, the Samoan haka,” the Australian winger explains.
“It’s the first time I’ll play Samoa and I always wanted to play for them.
“It’s going to be a good one for my family members.
“They will be there to support me, but I don't know who they will be supporting.”
There will be a strong contingent at the game including his brothers Pat, Chanel and Pete, who now plays for the St George Illawarra Dragons, as well as his cousins and brothers-in-law.
Adding to the occasion, Mata’utia will also come up against Knights teammates Dave Fa’alogo and Joey Leilua.
“It’s going to be fun playing against them,” he said.
“I’m so thankful that I’m not on the right side of Joey.
"I’m sure that they’re not going to hold back when they are running at me.
“They are going to be out to get me.”
It was just a week ago the utility back made his debut for Australia, becoming the youngest ever Kangaroos player. Reflecting on the occasion, the 18-year-old concedes he only started to get feel pangs of nerves in the final count down to kick off.
“I really got nervous when we started singing the anthem,” Mata’utia said.
“Just before it I was cool and relaxed and really keen.”
Most of his teammates went out on the field at AAMI Park in Melbourne before kick off, but he stuck to his pre-game routine, only making his way out towarda the end.
“The clock was winding down and it was getting closer and closer and when I was getting strapped up was probably when it hit me,” he added.
Mata’utia had a loyal following watching on then too, including his Mum, who he and his older brothers credit as the most important person in their lives.
“I went to see the family before the game, they are always on my mind before a game,” he said.
“When I was singing the anthem they were right in front of me at the top of the stadium.
“It was good to have them there, especially my Mum, she wasn’t going to come at the start, but she came down with my brother-in-law.”
As far as international debuts go, Mata’utia’s performed strongly. Incredibly, the rising talent had only played a total of seven NRL games before gaining selection in the Prime Minister’s XIII.
The cool headed winger appeared to breeze through high-pressure moments in the match up against England. And there were a fair share of those moments in the closely contested game with Australia securing a 16-12 victory in the late stages of the game.
“My teammates were saying it was a good debut and the coaching staff and friends so it was good news getting that feedback,” he said humbly.
“The most important feedback comes from the coaches because they are they people that decide if you’re going to play or not.
“There was plenty of support around me.
“I had a few goals, like to not have any mistakes.
“I was just playing how I usually play like running hard and doing my best, and being there for the team.”
Selection this weekend was another stamp of approval from the coaches.
“You don’t really expect to play week to week with all the senior boys,” Mata’utia admitted.
“Being younger player, you just take a game as you come.
Mata’utia is relishing the chance to be among the best in the world and playing alongside players he idolised as a child.
“Four or five months ago I was watching them on TV,” he said.
“I’ve gotten to know them better and it’s awesome.
“To be around them in camp has been awesome and that was one reason I was so excited to be in camp to see how these guys prepare and handle themselves.
“I’ve taken a lot from how they prepare for games.
“One of the biggest eye openers during the game was how calm Sam Thaiday and Cameron Smith were.
“When we were in the deep end and falling behind, they were so calm.
“I was pretty frantic and the nerves were going through me. I learnt a bit from that.”
With the countdown on for Sunday's match, no doubt Mata'utia's family will be proud, regardless of which team they are cheering for.