There’s no more significant day for Newcastle Knights' players and fans alike than the traditional Old Boys Day played annually at Hunter Stadium on the last home game of the season.
It’s an occasion to celebrate the rich traditions, passion, honour and pride shown by the founding fathers of the Club as well as the players who have donned the red and blue jersey since the Knights’ inception in 1988.
As with every Old Boys Day occasion, this Sunday will see dozens of past players and officials converge on Hunter Stadium to celebrate and reflect on the trials and tribulations since the Club’s beginning.
While the footings of the Club were set well before Sione Mata’utia was born, the significance of Old Boys Day is not lost on the talented tyro.
“I think it’s one of the best days of the year and we all look forward to it," Sione said.
“The Old Boys are the foundation of our club and they are the guys that made our mark as the Steel City and our focus is to get back to what the Old Boys had.
"They built a really tough team and a really tough place to come and play.”
The daunting prospect of running out in front of celebrated former Knights, some of whom have even worn the same jersey number, only motivates and pushes Mata’utia to do them proud.
“I think at the end of the day if I just do the best of my ability, it goes a long way to helping the team,” he added.
Sione’s brother and Knights teammate Peter is set to play his first Old Boys Day since rejoining the Club earlier this year.
“It’s a big occasion for the Club. It’s Old Boys Day and we get to represent the past players who molded the Club into what it is now,” Peter said.
“We look forward to it.”
Peter has faced the challenge of playing the Knights on Old Boys Day as an opponent and is eager to be experience the day from another perspective.
“I have only played on Old Boys Day once and it was with the Dragons and I play my first one this weekend in the red and blue and I’m looking forward to it,’ he said.
Meanwhile, head coach Nathan Brown believes the important Club tradition will provide a lift for the young team this Sunday.
“I understand the sentiment behind it is and understanding it to be one of the best Old Boys Days,” Brown said.
“A lot of people do come to town.
“I understand the importance of it and hope the younger generation can understand the importance of it too."
Harnessing that Club pride and passion will be an aim for the coaching staff in the build up to the Knights’ match against opponent the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Newcastle Knights assistant coach and Club great Danny Buderus is a driving force behind organising past players to connect and speak with the current team before the match.
“One or two of the Old Boys (will) come and chat to the younger guys about the history of the Club,” he said.
“Those guys can help make the younger guys understand.”
A lap of honour will take place for the past players and officials before the NRL match at approximately 3.40pm. The former players will then form a guard of honour before the NRL match kicks at 4pm.
The Club encourages Members and fans to arrive to the game earlier to be a part of the celebration.