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The grind of a long pre-season can wear any player down, so 20-year-old Sione Mata’utia says he’s looking forward to the reward of playing in the NRL All Stars match next February.

Mata’utia, alongside teammate Dane Gagai, has been selected for the annual fixture that will take place in Newcastle for the first time.

“It’s a massive confidence booster and it’ll cap off a hard pre-season,” Mata’utia said following the announcement.

“It’s good to get an earlier game than the other boys and just looking at the teams today I think it’s going to be very exciting.”

Plenty of big names have been selected, including Greg Inglis and Johnathon Thurston in the Indigenous side, while Jarryd Hayne has been selected for the World All Stars.

Mata’utia says he will be looking to glean some experience from such veterans of the game, and will aim to further develop his game in camp.

“I think the experience is going to be the most valuable thing for me,” he said.

“There’s some big names there that I would just like to rub shoulders with and get a few tips from.”

Mata’utia is equally excited to come up against Club teammate Dane Gagai, who will be playing in his third All Stars match.

“I’m pretty excited to go up against Dane, so if I can find him on the field I’ll definitely give him a rev up,” Mata’utia said with a grin.

“As a junior I think one of the fun things was coming up against your mates.”

There’s no better place to come up against a mate than at your home ground as well, and there’s sure to be plenty of Knights fans in the crowd at McDonald Jones Stadium come February 10.

“It might be a bit weird coming up against Dane but I know he won’t back down,” Mata’utia said.

“He can hit for a little fellah, so it’s going to be fun.”

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