Mata'utia: Make A Name For Myself
By Dan Walsh (NRL.com)
Ray Warren must have jumped for joy when he found out he would be off to the Gold Coast this Sunday.
In spite of Rabs's well-documented fear of flying, and the 45 minutes he's required to spend at 15,000 feet to reach the nation's party strip, things could be worse.
Short of being introduced to Tom and George Burgess at barefoot bowls (Warrren uses their different fluorescent boots to tell the difference between the identical incredible hulks), calling a game involving the Mata'utia brothers must rank somewhere alongside taxes, colonoscopies and flying over the Bermuda triangle for the great man.
Not because the quartet aren't Warren's cup of tea as players.
Far from it.
The acrobatic prowess on show from Kinghts duo Sione and Chanel in recent weeks is just the ticket to get the voice of rugby league out of his chair and pumping up the decibels.
It's just that when three brothers start making a name for themselves, but can't agree on how to pronounce it, you've got to feel for the commentators.
Twenty-three-year-old Peter, of the Dragons’ right-centre fame, has been rocking Mat-a-yoo-tie, since making his first grade debut in 2011.
Chanel (22) and Sione (18) threw a bloody great spanner in the works when they took the NRL and the Newcastle flanks by storm five weeks ago with their fancy finishing and an insistence on Ma-tow-tee-ya.
For the record, second youngest Pat (20), currently plying his trade with the Knights NSW Cup team, sides with his club mates in the pronunciation stakes.
So with the Knights-Dragons Sunday arvo clash putting three of the four on the same park for the first time since a couple of opposed training runs in juniors, you could forgive Rabs and the boys at Channel Nine for breathing a sigh of relief when they saw they were covering the Titans and Bulldogs.
For the sake of the Fox commentary team, who will be in Newcastle, and the burgeoning curiosity in rugby league land, we put it to Pete – exactly what in the name of Kirk Reynoldson's beard is going on?
"When I debuted it was Ma-ta –yoo- tie and I've stuck with it only because it was easier for everyone to say and it meant I only had one last name every week," says Peter.
"But I think everyone's now trying to pronounce it properly, and we'll probably just keep it like that.
"For 2015, me and my brothers will have to get together in the off-season and have a little conference meeting to sort it out."
Ah yes, a conference meeting. The very same type of get-together that left Pat missing a couple of teeth on one occasion?
"Those backyard games were ruthless, always pretty even," says Peter.
"It was always me and Sione versus Pat and Chanel.
"The youngest and oldest versus the middle two.
"We've never had an actual game against each other besides backyard footy, so this weekend's going to be awesome.
"We always talked about playing together in one team as we were growing up, it's a big goal of ours.
"It's one of my mum's goals as well, but I think just getting three boys on the paddock is just a humbling experience and a great, proud moment for mum."
While getting all four brothers on the same team sheet remains on Peter's bucket list, Paul McGregor's instalment as long-term coach in Dragon Town has the three-quarter optimistic about his future with the club.
Peter has been the subject of interest from the Bulldogs as well as three other clubs of late, but has had previous requests for a release from the Dragons refused as he still has a year to run on his current contract.
He arrived at the Dragons from the Knights earlier this year in a bid to consistently play first grade footy, and has now clocked up seven games on their right edge after an injury-plagued 2013 season.
McGregor is known to have a high opinion of the kid he's thrown into the Dragons star-studded backline, and Peter is adamant securing a regular first grade gig comes above getting the Mata'utia band back together for the moment.
"I came down here to challenge myself and cement a first grade spot, and that's still my number one goal at the moment, nailing down that starting spot," Mata'utia says.
"Playing with the boys in the same side is still there, but right now establishing myself is my focus.
"I've got one more year here, next year and I'm just focusing on my footy at the moment.
"I'll start talking to ‘Mary’ sometime soon or in the off-season, but he's a great coach and he deserved to get the job, and he has given me plenty of confidence."