Less than six months ago Sione Mata’utia was exclusively seen as an outside back.
That all changed in Round 17 though, as coach Nathan Brown named Mata’utia in the second row for the match against the Canberra Raiders.
Mata’utia hasn’t looked back since, impressing in every single one of his matches in the forwards and finishing the season by being named joint Gladiator of the Year at the Club’s Awards Night.
Heading into the 2017 pre-season Mata’utia sees his long-term future in the back row, and has been working to put on more weight and learn the skills specific to the position.
“I’m planning to put on a little more weight due to the positional change,” he said at Thursday’s announcement at McDonald Jones Stadium.
“I just need a bit more weight behind me with all the big boys running at me now.
“I want to get up to about 100kg and see how I can run.
“I’m about 98kg now and I did a fair bit of running on Tuesday and it seemed okay.”
Mata’utia certainly looks solid heading into his fourth NRL pre-season, but will be facing some strong competition for a starting second row berth.
With Mitch Barnett, Jacob Saifiti and Pauli Pauli all vying for one of the two spots, Mata’utia knows he will have to work hard.
Added on top of that is the signing of Jamie Buhrer, who has played plenty of football in the back row.
“There’s a lot of competition here at the Club with back rowers, so that’s only going to be good for the team,” Mata’utia said.
“Jamie’s got a lot of finals experience and players like that we definitely need at the Club.”
Buhrer and Mata’utia both boast versatility, competitiveness and aggression, and the 20-year-old Mata’utia is excited to learn from his new teammate.
“Jamie’s a very versatile player and I’ll definitely be learning a few things from him,” he said.
“I can start learning new skills around it so it’s good.”