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This Sunday the nib Newcastle Knights will play for the Alex McKinnon Cup against the St George Illawarra Dragons.

Pete Mata’utia knows the Round 16 clash will be an emotional encounter to a number of players, on both sides.

“Alex has played a big part for both our clubs,” said Mata'utia, who like McKinnon, has played for both the Knights and the Dragons.

“I know a lot of the boys loved playing with Alex and that trophy means a lot to both clubs... it will be a tough game.

"He was a great role model for the younger kids when he was young himself."

The oldest Mata’utia brother said he’s grateful to have kept in touch with the former Knights utility.

“Alex texts my brothers and I every now and then just to see how we are,” said Mata’utia.

“When I left St George, he helped looked after my brothers while I was gone.

“I have a lot of respect for Alex and for what he did for the Club... and I’ll definitely be trying my best to get the two points and the trophy back here.”

While he may have been keeping away from the footy field on the weekend with the bye and celebrating brother Sione’s 21st birthday, Mata’utia still found time to get some game prep in.

“I watched the Dragons game a bit... I love watching the boys play as I had a few years there and can’t wait to play them this weekend,” he said.

While the Dragons may not be firing like they were at the start of the season, the 26-year-old knows they can’t be taken lightly.

“They are a proud club and they have quality players,” explained Mata’utia.

“Doogs (Josh Dugan) and Friz (Tyson Frizell) always seem to play their best when they back up from Origin and our team will definitely be looking forward to the challenge."