After joining the Newcastle Knights mid-season, Sam Mataora is eyeing a spot in the NRL after committing to the Newcastle Knights for a further three years.
Prior to his time at the Knights, Matoara played 33 NRL games for the Canberra Raiders.
The 24-year-old played with NSW Cup upon arrival, including the 2014 Grand Final, under then coach Rick Stone.
He is now excited about his future and says despite offers from other NRL clubs, there was plenty that enticed him to stay in Newcastle.
One of the major factors was the appointment of Stone to head coach.
“Stoney is a good bloke and you can pretty much talk to him like he’s one of the boys,” Matoara said.
“He’s good like that and it’s one of the reasons why I stayed, because he’s easier to open up to.”
As the third week of pre-season training rolls around, the forward is embracing the chance to work on his fitness and believes it will be the key to reaching his potential in 2015.
“Some of my goals are to try to lose a bit of weight and hopefully try to secure a spot in first grade,” he said.
“I think there are a couple of spots up for grabs and I have to work hard for that."
One of the highlights of his times at the Knights has been the opportunity to play alongside the squad’s seasoned senior players.
“I had an enjoyable time with the boys and especially Timana (Tahu) and (Clint) Newton, players I used to watch back in school,” he said.
“It was mad and I had a good time with them and learning off them.”
Mataora is one of a number of players to boost the red and blue’s ranks including new recruits Tariq Sims, Jack Stockwell and New Zealand juniors’ teammate Carlos Tuimavave.
“I played with Carlos in the junior Kiwis so it’s good to have him around,” he said.
“I haven’t really seen Stockwell play, but from what I’ve heard from a couple of the players is that he goes pretty good.
“I can’t wait to work with them next year.”
After delivering a solid effort in NSW Cup under the eyes of Stone, the New Zealand born forward is highly motivated to make his ambition to play first grade a reality.
“I guess it’s up to me and hopefully I can reach my goals, lose some weight, stay healthy and fit and play a couple of games.”