He’s played on the wing, in the centres and backrow, at fullback, lock and even at halfback, but this year Sione Mata’utia believes he’s found a role of his own he can secure.
For a few years now, the Australian and Samoan representative’s extreme versatility has meant bouncing around all kinds of positions on the field, however this pre-season has seen him ply his trade solely as a second-rower.
The 23-year-old revealed coach Adam O’Brien has given Mata’utia a chance to knuckle down a consistent spot as an edge forward and he’s looking to repay O’Brien’s faith in him as the year wears on.
Sione: Trials and competition for spots
“At the moment I do feel like a backrower,” Mata’utia said.
“I’ve really given it a good crack this pre-season thanks to Adzy. He’s really helped me nail one position for now.
“Maybe next year if I play centre, I’ll feel like a centre as well. I’ve trained a lot of backrow and I’d like to give it a good crack this year.”
While he’s keen to make a second-row position his own before the start of the season, the young man is still aware of the contribution he can make in various roles on the field.
“Wherever the opportunity presents itself I’ll be happy to slot in,” he said.
“I’ve always thought about it [if his versatility has had negative effect], but you never know until you finish your career and look back.
Lee: Injury return, combinations and Dragons clash
“I’m just happy to be at least be playing some first grade. At the end of the day, that’s the ultimate goal, to be on the paddock. Wherever I play, I’ll play.”
The upcoming trial match against the Dragons this Saturday evening will prove an important assessment for Mata’utia in a new role under a new coach.
As it is for many players across the squad, the trials will be a chance to combine with new teammates and put into practice all they’ve accomplished over the pre-season.
“We’ll try to put out on the field what we’ve been taught all pre-season so far with Adzy,” he said.
“The first trial will definitely be a bit of a test for the combinations and with all the new principles that our team has come up with.
“I guess you just never know until you play. We’ll give it a crack, I guess that’s all we can say we can do.”