Competition - NRL. Round - Round 16. Teams - St. George Dragons v Newcastle Knights. Date - 25th of June 2017. Venue - Jubilee Oval

Big forward Sam Mataora made his first NRL appearance for the nib Newcastle Knights this season against the St George Illawarra Dragons on Sunday.

The 26-year-old, who played his last NRL match in Round 26 last year, came off the bench to play at prop.

“I pulled up fine, I didn’t play many minutes so I'm not feeling too bad,” Mataora said.

“It would have been good if we won but it was tough and we let ourselves down in the second half.”

Mataora, who has been a Reserve Grade regular this season, admits it was tough getting used to the faster tempo again.

“I struggled trying to pick up the pace of the game, it was a bit quicker than reserve grade,” he acknowledged.

The Knights forward admits there were several lessons learnt.

“Just hold the ball, wrap it up when tackling,” Mataora said.

“They just got too many offloads away and we were on the back foot.”

Despite the loss, Mataora is optimistic of a tough encounter with the Wests Tigers this Sunday.

“Hopefully we get a good crowd out and we'll see if we can get the win,” he said.

“It is always good, especially at home because everyone turns up and just to get the win, it will give the town that good feeling.”

The Knights are back at McDonald Jones Stadium for their Round 17 clash, NYC kick off at 11.45am before NRL action at 2pm.