By Jack Brady (NRL.com)
Peter Mata'utia was eating chicken in the sheds before he was called up to replace Dragons winger Jason Nightingale just moments before kick-off in the Red V's 31-6 win over the Bulldogs, his second game in just 25 hours after playing NSW Cup with the Illawarra Cutters on Saturday.
Mata'utia, who ended the Dragons' fourth-straight win with 186 metres (the most metres made by a Dragon) and a try, proved a handy replacement for the Kiwi International Nightingale, though was feeling the pinch of the Cutters' 24-20 loss to the Wyong Roos from the day prior – an 80 minute appearance in the centres – in what was a 160 minute weekend of football.
"I found out I was going to play just after they finished the warm-up so I ran out while they prepared themselves in the sheds and warmed up by myself before anyone ran out," Mata'utia said.
"I was on standby for the game but when I saw them warm-up I thought I was alright so I started eating KFC and Chinese food. I wasn't even thinking about it throughout the game but half-time was bad.
"I was dehydrated but I knew I had a job to do for the team so I tried my best. I'm sore now, man. I wasn't too bad after NSW Cup but after playing first grade I'll feel very sore on Monday definitely."
Mata'utia, who told NRL.com previously he has reached a point in his career where he wants to play in the NRL every week, was buoyed by the kind words of his teammates and coach Paul McGregor.
"I received some pretty good feedback from the boys and the coach which was nice to hear," Mata'utia said.
"I love playing for the Red V and that jersey so every chance I get to wear it I'm going to take it with both hands and try my hardest to return to the starting team."
As for Nightingale, St George Illawarra released a statement shortly after fulltime which read their star winger will undergo scans on his foot on Monday.
“Our initial thoughts are that he has suffered a planta fasciitis tear and he is presently wearing a precautionary boot ahead of undertaking MRI scans on Monday," said Dragons Physiotherapist Dan Lawson.