By Mary Maidiotis
St George Illawarra Dragons second-rower Will Matthews is grateful to have received the call-up for the match against the Brisbane Broncos at Jubilee Oval, Kogarah on Friday.
Matthews, 27, played an instrumental role in the Dragons’ 12-10 victory, which demonstrated the side’s defensive capabilities that have earned them the title of best defensive team in the competition.
The Kyogle Turkeys junior played the full 80 minutes, clocking up 115 metres and leading the Red V tackle count with 41.
“It was a tough game to come back against the Broncos, they’ve had consecutive wins, and they’re a great defensive side so they put us under the pump a lot,” said Matthews.
“Coming up against such a good side meant that it was a good initiation for me, it was a real tester.
“I was playing reserve grade, then I got suspended for two games, before coming back for a couple more games, and then Tyson got suspended.
“That gave me my opportunity and I’m really thankful to Mary for giving me a crack in a starting spot.
“He could have moved one of the boys off the bench into that starting spot but he showed faith in me, so I’m very grateful.
“It’s still early days in the competition, it’s only round seven, so we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves, but it’s definitely been a favourable start to the year.
“Obviously it’s something that we can build off and work towards trying to maintain that top four position, as that’s always a goal.
“We were pretty scrappy with the ball tonight so our defence needed to be solid and it was, we worked really hard in the offseason on defence, so it is incredible to see it paying off now.
“The boys are out there working hard for one another and you can tell they’re just hustling for each other and covering each other’s backs which is awesome to see.
“On my side of the field, having Dylan Farrell there talking to me and telling me what was going on, helped me out a lot.
“Our forwards in the middle did a great job as well, they controlled the ruck and it was a team effort, so everyone excelled.
“The ANZAC Day clash against the Roosters has always been a massive game.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play in one before so it’s one of those games which everyone loves playing in as you are playing for our fallen heroes and the atmosphere is electric.
“In preparation for next week’s game we need to clean up our attack, unfortunately we are dropping the ball a bit too much.
“Our defence can always be improved on, but at the moment it’s what’s keeping us in the game, I think if we just try and complete our sets a bit better and add more polish to our sets, it will go a long way.”