Sione Mata'utia was only five-years-old when the nib Newcastle Knights won their second premiership, but he says he's excited for this Friday's rematch when the team take on the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium for the first time since that much celebrated night.
“It is no secret there’s been some talk,” smiled Mata’utia.
“The last time we played there was 2001 for the grand final and what great memories that was.
“We looked at some highlights from that game which definitely made the boys pretty keen to hurry up and get to the game.”
Before the team travelled down to Sydney on Thursday, players were treated to a visit from Club legend Danny Buderus.
“He definitely had some stories to talk about,” said Mata’utia.
“They had a lunch on the Thursday and talked about what the vibe was like between the two teams.
“They were confident to win so we want to take that mindset down to Sydney.”
The Knights' co-captain knows they’ll have their hands full when they take on an in-form Eels side this Friday.
“They are a crazy good attacking side and have some big boys that run hard,” stated Mata’utia.
“We are going to have to be on our game defensively because they can strike from anywhere on the park.
“They are dangerous with (Mitchell) Moses in their team and (Corey) Norman who is already a renowned strike player as well as their outside backs, which are just crazy good so we’re going to have to be on board.
“Their middles that come off the bench, carry the ball and run hard pretty much so we’re going to have to be good defensively if we want to try and give ourselves a chance to win.”
Mata’utia acknowledged they have been hitting some good form themselves of late.
“(Mitch) Barney is playing some good footy and the Saifiti’s are also playing some good footy while our halves are definitely directing the team a lot better,” he said.
“The forward pack has definitely stepped it up a bit and they’ve improved this season through the highs and lows.
“They are reaping their rewards of just training hard throughout the week to learn to improve their game.”
The Knights’ Round 23 encounter with the Eels will be at ANZ Stadium Friday night. NYC kick-off at 3.45pm before NRL at 6pm.