Peter Mata’utia is once again a proud Knight and thrilled to re-join his three siblings Chanel, Pat and Sione in Newcastle.
The eldest of the four Mata’utia brothers signed with the Club on Wednesday, allowing him to return to his hometown and team.
Mata’utia’s career began in the Newcastle Knights’ junior system with him excelling in the NYC competition before making his NRL debut against the Sydney Roosters in Round 11 of the 2011 season, scoring a try on debut.
He then departed the Club and began playing with the St George Illawarra Dragons in 2014.
The Dragons announced on Wednesday morning they granted the 25-year-old a release, which allowed Mata’utia to sign with the Knights.
“It’s a bit surprising actually. It feels like a long time but has only been two and a half years,” he told the media on Thursday.
“I’m definitely looking forward to getting out there and training with the boys tomorrow."
Mata’utia expressed his gratitude to have been given the opportunity by the Dragons to return to Newcastle and admitted he felt mixed emotions about the move.
“It was a bit hard at first because Mary (coach Paul McGregor) wanted me to stay and wanted me to challenge for that centre spot down there, but he also knew I was a first grader and that I deserved to play as well,” he said.
“Thankfully, he let me go and I was able to come back and play."
Mata'utia also revealed he has harbored a desire to return to the Hunter for some time.
“It was always in the back of my mind to play with my brothers again, but I really enjoyed my time down in St George,” he said.
“I fell in love with the Club and have so much respect for what they are doing.
“When I was off contract last year I tried to come back home but it didn’t happen.
“I guess everything happens for a reason. It’s good to be back home now.”
The prospect of having all four brothers feature in the Knights’ backline is one that excites him.
“It’s a goal of my mum's, and you always want to play with all your brothers,” he said.
“This sport is really tough so we are all looking forward to training with each other tomorrow.”
A perceived challenge to his return is additional competition created between his brothers for a first grade spot, in particular Pat who has featured at left centre.
The eldest brother assures the family is prepared for added competition and believes it will drive them to be at their best.
“My brothers are happy to have me back and are looking forward to playing with me,” he said.
“I’m coming off a great season last year at centre and am looking forward to playing with the team this week if I get picked and if not, I have to work my butt off to get back into that team.
“My main focus is to try to play NRL.
“I spoke to Pat about what it would be like to have me back and he was actually happy I was coming back.
“He’s playing really well at the moment and it would be me trying to kick him out of that spot than the other way around.”
If he is sure of one thing, it is that the healthy rivalry between brothers will continue, even as teammates.
“It was always been like that and it started in the back yard footy games,” he said.
“I wanted to make sure my brothers were happy with me coming back, and they were and that made the choice a lot easier to come back home.
“I’m here to push for a spot anywhere in the team, whether it’s my brothers spot or the other backs in the side.
“It’s a good challenge for our team.”
Another motivating factor for a return to the Hunter for Peter was the incredible show of support from the Club’s Members and fans at Hunter Stadium in Round 6.
“What surprised me, and even the St George boys, was that the crowd was massive last weekend, 22,000,” he said.
“It reminded me of how good the crowd is up here and that the fans back the Club.
“I’m definitely looking forward to getting back in front of the home crowd and can’t wait to put on that red and blue jersey again.”
Monday April 25 – Round 8
Newcastle Knights v Manly Sea Eagles
Gates open: 11.30am
ANZAC Ceremony: 1.50pm
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Tickets: CLICK HERE
Game day information: CLICK HERE
ANZAC jersey: CLICK HERE