Player number: 266
Positions played: Wing, centre, back row
Average metres: 87.1
Average tackles: 13.9
Pat Mata’utia finally got his chance in first grade following a strong 2016 pre-season.
In the Round 1 match against the Gold Coast Titans, he played next to younger brother Chanel in the centres, and scored a try within 30 minutes.
Mata’utia went on to play seven straight games, and later in the season made the shift to the back row where he put his size and strength to good use.
With Chanel battling through most of the game with an ankle injury, Pat Mata’utia had plenty of ground to cover on the left edge in his NRL debut.
A short pass from Jarrod Mullen gave him an easy try and his defence was outstanding with ten tackles made and none missed.
It was a strong debut, and gave Mata’utia the platform to play plenty more games.
In the pulsating Round 3 draw against the Canberra Raiders, the Knights were trailing by six points when Mata’utia received the ball ten metres out.
He had plenty of work to do, fending off Brenko Lee and then switching directions to wrong foot Elliot Whitehead and dive over the line.
What makes him special?
Like his three brothers, Mata’utia has the sheer athleticism to be a first grade player.
He did plenty of work on his defence in the 2016 pre-season, and often impressed with his one-on-one tackles in the back line.
Mata’utia’s most complete performance was in Round 3, when he made more hit-ups than any other player for the Knights and reached 160 running metres.
If he can find the consistency to hit those heights on a regular basis, then he would make a formidable weapon in the back row.
We continue to look back over the debut seasons of all of our 2016 rookies. On Thursday is player #268 Daniel Saifiti.