Warriors coach Andrew McFadden is happy with the improvement from Feleti Mateo in recent weeks. Credit: Robb Cox. Copyright: NRL Photos.
The frustrating wait might finally be over for Warriors fans, as Feleti Mateo reveals he may have found the key to gaining some much-needed consistency in his game.
Getting back to basics and having fun is the formula, but making it happen may be a little harder for the 29-year-old second-rower, who has been more rocks than diamonds for the majority of his four seasons with the Warriors.
In recent times fundamental errors have been far more frequent than the moments of utter brilliance which saw him signed by the New Zealand club.
But after two weeks spent down in the modest surrounds of the NSW Cup, the former City Origin representative, who describes his 2014 form to date as “pretty terrible”, believes he can turn it around.
“I think with the scrutiny on the game, and individual players, you can certainly lose some of the enjoyment and it can become a bit of a job,” Mateo said.
“If you can keep that enjoyment that is a big part of it.”
Despite making a try-scoring return to the NRL in the victory over the Storm on Anzac Day, Mateo remains a shadow of the player who led Parramatta to the 2009 Grand Final with his flair and unpredictability.
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“That is something [coach Andrew McFadden] doesn’t want to take away from me, that instinct,” he said.
“That is probably something I have lost a bit, hopefully in the next few weeks I can find it.
“There are a lot of factors that contribute to it, but at the end of the day it’s the split second stuff that comes off for me.
“I thought I went alright on the weekend but I am always trying to get better.
“I can’t forget where I have come from, playing two weeks with the boys in reserve grade, I learned a lot down there and enjoyed my footy.”
The two-time NRL All Star’s poor form has translated into NRL Fantasy disappointment too, with his 33-point average, including a low round score of 21, hardly justifying his $229,861 price tag.
McFadden added that Mateo’s problems were never with the ball in hand, but rather his fitness and work in defence.
“Feleti always plays a free game with the ball, it’s the effort at marker in defence that he had to work on.
“He had a really solid performance without standing out last weekend... when he finds form he is going to be a pretty valuable asset to us.”
Meanwhile the Warriors are thankful for the timing of Representative Round, which afforded them a virtual bye week to heal some battered bodies and further restore their confidence in the lead-up to Saturday's game with Canberra at Eden Park.
“I think the 'bye' came at a good time for us, a few of the boys are knocked around,” Mateo said.
“To get a win down there (Melbourne), I think everyone knows how important it was.
“We have to forget what we have done, having the coach change and changes around the club, it’s a good chance for us to move forward from here.”
In his five games so far he has only two line breaks to his name, and despite it being his most renowned skill, has produced a mere five offloads.