Mata'utia family driven to succeed in NRL

Brothers Chanel and Sione Mata'utia before Knights training at Mayfield on Thursday. The pair are to make their NRL debuts against the Roosters. Picture: DARREN PATEMAN

Brothers Chanel and Sione Mata'utia before Knights training at Mayfield on Thursday. The pair are to make their NRL debuts against the Roosters. Picture: DARREN PATEMAN

RUGBY LEAGUE

Dragons centre Peter Mata'utia will drive to Newcastle on Friday night to watch his younger brothers make their NRL debuts, after they were called on by Wayne Bennett to come to the rescue of the embattled Knights.


While the club has been rocked by Bennett's impending exit from the club and Darius Boyd's admission to a mental health clinic, the richly talented Mata'utia brothers - Chanel and Sione - have been thrust into the line-up because of Newcastle's heavy injury toll, against the defending premiers Sydney Roosters no less.

Peter, who has played five NRL games since moving from Newcastle to Wollongong this year, admitted on Twitter that it would be an emotional moment for the family, and in trying circumstances for the club.

The Knights have also organised to fly their mother out from Samoa for the clash.

"Just a big thankyou to the @NRLKnights for flying my mum back from Samoa to see my little brother debut this week. #Respect," he tweeted.

"Our grind came from seeing our mother struggle.

"Too [sic] see both my brothers debut tomorow [sic] night is all thanked [sic] to you mum."

Peter will then return to Wollongong on Saturday for the Illawarra Cutters' NSW Cup clash with Wentworthville.

The Knights' upset loss to the Gold Coast last week killed off their slim finals hopes.

The week only got worse for the under-fire club when Queensland star Boyd was admitted to a mental health clinic on Wednesday.

NSW winger James McManus has since been ruled out of the match up against the premiers with an ongoing toe injury he sustained in Origin III.

After their shock round-17 loss to last-placed Cronulla, the Roosters bounced back to form last week by dispatching top-of-the-table Penrith 32-12 to get their own finals prospects back on good footing.

But Roosters skipper Anthony Minichiello said the Tricolours are cautious about a Knights side with nothing to lose, especially after claims "they let their mate" Alex McKinnon down in the loss to the Titans during the 'Rise for Alex' round.

"It was tough for them last week, they didn't show their best game," Minichiello told reporters on Thursday.

"It is a danger game for us and we are wary of them.

"It was a good step forward for us last week and we want to continue with that.

"We have set ourselves high standards in defence and we think we are getting back there.

"Momentum is the key this time of year and building the team into the back-end of the year, and that brings confidence."

Sione, 18, will play fullback for Boyd and Chanel, 21, will take Akuila Uate's spot on the wing.

Minichiello said NSW centre Michael Jennings was likely to be still a week or two away from returning from a back injury for the fifth-placed Roosters.

AAP

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