Sione Mata’utia is a Newcastle success story.
From a Raymond Terrace and South Newcastle junior to now just about to play his 100th game for the Newcastle Knights.
“Just so grateful of the position I’m in and it’s crazy how far it has come,” Mata’utia said.
“I had Georgie Carmont to look up to, he paved the way for me initially and my brothers.
“He was a Raymond Terrace first grade Rooster and to see him play that kind of footy and play first grade for the Knights, was the light bulb that us boys could make it as well.”
It’s been a rollercoaster for the Samoan international.
He debuted 2014, Round 20 against the Roosters in fullback.
It was extra special because he got to debut alongside his brother Chanel.
That year he also played for Australia and was selected in the Prime Minister’s XIII. A few years later he would also play for his country, Samoa, and the World All Stars.
He’s been through a lot with the Knights and the fans. There were the good days, but he also had to endure tough times at the club.
“It’s been a rocky road, some tough years,” Mata’utia explained.
“I didn’t see it coming as a young kid, those three and four years were very tough for the club and the town as well.
“We had plenty of support though, they (fans) rode the highs and lows with us.”
He come through it. He couldn’t be prouder of where they’re now headed.
“To still be here after all those years and to see some positive results, it’s pretty satisfying,” Mata’utia added.
“I’m pretty proud of the boys in the last couple of years, their efforts.
“We’re still moving forward and have got a lot to improve on and I just have to be grateful every day that I get to do what I love to do and that’s playing footy.”
At one stage he almost moved on from the Knights… luckily, he can still call himself a one club man.
“There was always a thing for us brothers to stay in Newcastle, that was first and foremost that we put out there,” Mata’utia said.
“It’s hard to leave Newcastle, the beaches, sunny days, we grew up here.
“We nearly left but thankfully there was other plans sorted and we got to stick around and I’m very happy we did.”
A century of NRL games will be reached for the youngest Mata’utia brother when he takes the field against the Rabbitohs on Friday.
He’ll get to play his milestone at ANZ Stadium. His family wouldn’t miss it. All 35 of them.
“Getting all the tickets sorted for my family,” Mata’utia laughed.
“It’s just amazing I got to hang around for this long.
“I’d like to thank god for bringing me this far and all the hard work I’ve put in.
“All the support I’ve had from the early days, all my brothers and my mum taking us to training, to my sisters always helping out and now to my beautiful partner helping me out in the last couple of years.