Another milestone for Mata'utia
This Sunday is not only a special occasion as the nib Newcastle Knights play for the Alex McKinnon Cup, but also because the Club's captain will be celebrating a milestone on game day.
As one of the youngest ever to captain an NRL side, Sione Mata’utia will get to lead his team out on the field for his 21st birthday.
“The big 21, it is definitely going to be a special day,” Mata’utia smiled.
“If we get a win, it is going to be the icing on the cake.”
Although the youngster admits he doesn’t want it to overshadow the importance of getting the two points.
“I don’t want to take away from the game as it is a pretty important game for us,” Mata’utia said.
“It could kick start the back end of our season to finish on a positive.
The skipper can’t deny the Dragons are a formidable force across the park.
“They have some big boys up front and Gareth Widdop really does direct their team around,” Mata’utia said.
“They are pretty dangerous across the park and if (Josh) Dugan and the other boys back up from Origin it will make the challenge a lot harder.”
Mata’utia says he’s also looking forward to coming up against his opposite number, former teammate Tariq Sims.
“It should be good and I can’t wait to come up against him because we didn’t get the opportunity to go up against him last year,” he said.
“He is very close mates with of a lot of the boys here so it is going to be a special occasion.”
With the bye allowing for some fine tuning at training, Mata’utia claims the focus has been on possession.
“Trying to control the ball, complete our sets and just the usual stuff that helps win games,” Mata’utia explained.
“Keeping it basic is what’s best for us.
“If we get to our kicks and complete our defensive sets, we’ll definitely be in with a good chance.”
And the captain can’t think of a better time to get the Knights across the line than for the Alex McKinnon Cup.
The former Knight was once a mentor to the youngest Mata’utia brother.
“He was there to pull us in place,” laughed Mata’utia.
“Alex played a very big part in keeping us on the straight and narrow up here in Newcastle and he knows what he has done for us.
“His advice meant a lot to us back then so I have high regards for Alex and a lot of respect for him as well.”
In team news, Trent Hodkinson and Tom Hughes drop off the extended bench, with the final team being named an hour before kick off.
The Knights take on the Dragons this Sunday at UOW Jubilee Oval, kick off is at 2pm.