When Sione Mata’utia runs out for the NRL All Stars on Friday night it will be his first representative appearance since playing for the Kangaroos in 2014.
It will also be his first representative match in his home town, and the 20-year-old said he can’t wait to play in front of friends and family.
“Our team manager was sort of scratching his head at the numbers I threw up for tickets, but they’ll all be coming,” Mata’utia told Knights TV following the World All Stars’ final training session at McDonald Jones Stadium.
“It’ll be good to see my family come and for Newcastle it will be awesome as well.
“We’ve got a really good base of Indigenous people here, as well as people who love footy.”
In the week leading up to the match both the World and Indigenous All Stars teams have been doing plenty of work in the Newcastle community.
“It’s been an awesome experience,” Mata’utia said.
“We’ve been trying to teach kids about respect and belonging, and showing them what it looks like.
“We’re trying to put some smiles on faces while spreading a good message as well.”
While Mata’utia is heading into his fourth year of NRL football, he’s the youngest player in this year’s World All Stars squad.
“I do feel a bit young here,” he grinned.
“At Club footy sometimes I forget what age I am.
“I’ve just been trying to rub shoulders with the other guys that obviously play at a very good level of football.”
The NRL All Stars match kicks off at 8pm on Friday evening.