Newcastle Knights games at Hunter Stadium have always been a family affair for Sione Mata’utia.
As a beaming youngster, he’d settle in for the long haul on the hill to watch not only the blockbuster action of first grade, but the lower grades too.
“I came to a fair few games, obviously my brothers were playing at the time,” Sione said.
“We used to arrive a bit early and watch the lower grades and all the way through."
At the time, the youngest of the Mata’utia brothers, Pete (now at St George Illawarra Dragons), Chanel and Pat were involved on the Knights junior development system.
“I came with my parents…and at my that time it used to be always with my sisters because my brothers were playing,” he explained.
“It was always jam-packed, there were some pretty good memories.”
Watching the energy and excitement of the games from up on the hill ignited his desire to experience it firsthand down on the field.
“I always aspired to be (a Knight) but never knew if was going to come or not,” he said.
“As time went on, opportunities came up.”
One of the advantages of growing up locally was the chance to join and excel as a member of the Knights’ junior development system.
“Our school was linked through the Knights and we had a fair few Knights players come to our school at Hunter Sports High,” he said.
“It was a good gateway to make it through the system.
“I remember playing here (Hunter Stadium) at half time as a junior and that was one of my biggest moments of my footy career as a youngster.”
It wasn’t that long ago the talented 18-year-old was sitting on the hill, but now he takes the field as a Knights first grader.
It’s something he remembers every time he runs out at Hunter Stadium.
"Especially when we warm up, there’s a few moments there when you can look around at the kids and come before the game,” he said.
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