Sione Mata'utia drives for improvement
For Sione Mata’utia, this season has been all about growing and developing into a better player.
Mata’utia's performance in Saturday’s loss to the New Zealand Warriors was arguably his best of the year, earning Players’ Player.
“Last year I sort of lacked the defensive part of the game so I’ve worked pretty hard and still am working hard to improve,” he said.
It’s an area of his game that was on show on Saturday with the 19-year-old’s performance against the Warriors.
“I think defensively it was one of my best games even though we got a touch up,” he said.
After bursting onto the scene in 2014 and making his NRL debut and gaining selection as an Australian Kangaroo in the same season, he believes he is still yet to play his best football.
“I have come a long way since then and am still looking to improve," he said.
“I have learned NRL is tough at a high level week in, week out and that’ the biggest thing I have learned and I am trying to stay consistent.
"Once all the…adrenalin starts going away, you start to find it’s pretty hard and that’s when all the hard work starts to come to life and you have to stop relying on your talent then and start working with the players around you and keep improving your game.
“So far I’m pretty happy with the progress I’ve had and the coaches are (too). I just have to keep improving week in week out.”
Meanwhile, the Knights will welcome a number of injured players back to the field after the bye including Mata’utia’s older brother Peter.
“Pete has a bit of experience and even though he’s still young, he shows a lot of talk and maturity so that’s something we need on the other side,” he said.
“I think he will bring a lot of stability… talk, experience and control to the left side.”
Although the Knights have struggled to ignite their season, Mata’utia assures the team will continue to fight in the pursuit of improvement each game.
“We still have to play as a team every game,” Sione said.
“Whenever we put on the jersey we have a role to play and don’t think we ever put on a jersey to just roll through the minutes.
“I think we have to keep competing. That’s the ultimate goal.
“We need to compete week in, week out no matter what the scenario is for us as a team.
“As long as we are competing and showing the fans that we actually have pride in the jersey and are playing to the best of our ability, I think we will go a long way.”
One of the shining positives of the year has been the unwavering support from the Knights' Members and fans.
“It’s good to see the fans come out,” he said.
“It’s been really disappointing for what we’ve put out there for the amount of numbers we get at the game.
“I think the Tigers game we got around 20,000 and you could tell the boys really lifted because of the fans.
“It’s good to see they are really passionate fans and they expect a lot form us which is good because it keeps us honest.
“We are a town that loves our footy and no matter what we go through, the fans will turn out week in week out.”