Newcastle Knight Sione Mata’utia has spoken about his change of position during the side’s match against the Canberra Raiders on Sunday.
With a raft of late changes for the Knights, Mata’utia was a standout playing in the second row gaining 142 metres in attack as well as 28 tackles.
“It’s a new position and was a shock to the system but I had a lot of fun and was more involved in more parts of the game,’ he said on Monday.
“It was a massive learning curve for me and I’m looking forward to trying to learn the new position.
“It’s not that much different to centre, there’s just more attack come your way and a lot more running so I’m trying to get used to it."
Sione’s communication skills on the field were an asset in his new role.
“My natural talk probably helped out the edges and I was happy to do the job,’ he said.
“I wanted to get more involved in the games and that was a good way to do that.
“A lot more tackling does take a bit of running out of my game, but the defence part is what I’ve been trying to work on for a while.”
After experiencing the game closer to the middle, he has a newfound appreciation for the work of the side’s forwards.
“I have a lot of respect for the forwards and back rowers now days. It was a lot more work and I knew I’d been blowing straight away,” he said.
“It was just about trying to pick the best times to use my energy.
“I was in for a big one but I knew I’d get through it.”
He explained that in his junior football days, he did have expereince playing in the back row and at lock so the position wasn’t totally unfamiliar to him.
“It’s not that much of a difference to centre and I don’t mind the physical part, I like tackling a bit so it’s something a bit exciting for me.
“I just tried to compete and do my best and hopefully it shows to the other boys I’m really trying and that helps their game as well."
The Knights secured the lead at half time, but the 29-25 result was hard fought in a golden point showdown at GIO Stadium.
“It was obviously very disappointing. We had a stong start and we though we could close the game,” he said.
“Come to the second half we played a bit conservative and Canberra took advantage of that.
“We lacked off on a few parts of the game and they capitilised.
“Blake Austin was a key player for them and we didn’t do a good enough job on them.
“They just had a massive momentum swing and we just couldn’t hold on to that and they got a few tries off the back of that.
“When we got the lead we played conservative in the second half and tried to hold on to the lead instead of putting pedal to the metal and trying to score more points.”
The Newcastle Knights have a bye in Round 18 before taking on the Melbourne Storm in Round 19 at Hunter Stadium.